While United Nations projections indicate that the world’s population won’t peak until about 2100, it seems China’s population will be in decline much sooner than that. 

A Chinese government report predicts that the country’s population will peak in 2029 at 1.44 billion, before beginning a period of ‘’unstoppable’’ decline, leading to “very unfavourable social and economic consequences’’. 

The study, conducted by the China Academy of Social Sciences, highlights the need for the implementation of policies which address the fast-decreasing working age population and the fast-increasing elderly one.

Chinese government propaganda now exhorts women to “Have children for the country’’, a complete turnaround from the one-child policy propaganda of only a few years ago. 

More births would also mean an increase in the child-dependency ratio, which in the short term will further increase the population dependency ratio on those working and paying taxes.

However, it will be interesting to see whether an increase in the birth rate due to the change to a two-child policy actually materializes.  The previous propaganda was too successful, and many Chinese couples now don’t want to have more than one child.  They are marrying late, having children late, and focusing more on their own careers and desires. 

According to China's National Statistics Bureau, in 2017 there were 630,000 fewer births than in 2016 despite the two-child policy.  And with the number of women of child-bearing age expected to fall by more than 39% over the next decade, the future does not look promising.  Many think the country needs to give financial incentives to encourage couples to have two children and provide better childcare options to avoid a population crisis.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...