China could see its number of births fall to less than 10 million annually in the next five years if the government does not quickly abolish its policy of limiting families to two children, an expert was quoted by media as saying.
China’s total population might also fall in a few years, Guangdong Academy of Population Development director Dong Yuzheng (董玉整) told Yicai, a Chinese financial news outlet.
The number of babies born in China fell by 580,000 to 14.65 million in 2019 and the birthrate of 10.48 per thousand was the lowest since 1949 when present methods of collating data began, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said.
The country’s falling birthrate and its rapidly aging society is expected to test its ability to pay and care for its older people.
Although China abolished its decades-long one-child policy in 2016, couples have been discouraged from having larger families by the rising costs of healthcare, education and housing.
Separate data from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security show that the number of births last year plunged 15 percent to 10.035 million births from 11.79 million in 2019.
The ministry might not be counting some children in rural areas, said Liu Kaiming, a labor expert in the southern city of Shenzhen, adding that he expects the number of newborns in 2020 to be between 10 million and 14 million.
“[The number of births] might fall below 10 million next year,” Liu said.
China has also yet to release the results of a once-a-decade census. It previously said the results would be released early this month.
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