Skyline of Beijing, China

“In the long run, we are going to see a China the world has never seen.”

Wang Feng, who specializes in China’s demographics as a professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine. China released numbers showing a population decline for the first time in more than 60 years.

Published on

jan 17, 2023

New Data: China decreased in population by about 850,000 people in 2022. China's birth rate has been declining for years but last year marked the first time since 1961 that deaths outnumbered births. Also helpful to note: The United Nations expects India to surpass China as the world's most populous nation sometime this year.

Why It Matters: China is the world's most populous nation at more than 1.41 billion people. It is also the world's second-largest economy. The new numbers indicate a growing "demographic crisis" that will impact the development of both China and the global economy. Why? A shrinking population leads to an older and less "vibrant" country, Feng says. With decreased workers comes things like less tax revenue, increased need for elder care, and slower economic growth.

Important Context: The data comes in wake of a particularly challenging year for China as the government relied on a "zero-COVID policy" with strict lockdowns for the majority of the year. Pandemic-related restrictions caused a weakened economy and disrupted global supply chains, as reflected in data showing a 3% increase in gross domestic product – making it one of the lowest figures in recent decades and below the government's 5.5% goal.

China’s Population Falls, Heralding a Demographic Crisis (The New York Times)

China's population falls for first time in over 60 years (Axios)

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