China's Birth Rate

On January 22, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China revealed an important announcement: 18.5 million babies were born in Chinese hospitals in 2016, which is an 11.5% increase from the previous year and the highest number since 2000.

Among those new babies, nearly 45% were second children, nearly a 15% increase from the numbers registered before 2013. However, the increase was smaller than previously expected. It was forecasted that the number of babies born per year would increase by 3 million between 2015 to 2020, but there was only an increase of 1.3 million babies.  

According to China Daily, based on a 2015 national survey, after 36 years of the “one child policy,” the total fertility rate declined to 1.05, the lowest number in the world.

When the “one child policy” started, one-third of the population in China was around 15 years old, which means that around 2013 the working age came to a peak in the labor market. As we can tell from the figure, by the year 2050, the estimation is that the population of the country will be comprised predominantly of advanced age individuals. The Economist estimates that this group of the population could reach 370 million by 2050. If this is the case, pensions will be a big financial burden for the government. This was one of the reasons to gradually stop the enforcement of the “one child policy”.
Compared to the previous 40 years, the current birth rate is still much lower than the 1980s peak. Part of the explanation for this is the expenses related to raising a child. Other than the policy support, the Economist suggests that the Chinese government needs to figure out other strategies to encourage the recent improvement. The National Health and Family Planning Commission also suggests some “child-friendly measures” to incorporate to the policy implementation.


Xuewei Chen

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