SCIO briefing on 7th National Population Census

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Southern Metropolis Daily:

What do we make of the slowdown in China's population growth during the decade from 2010 to 2020, as seen in the main results of the census? Some experts predict that China's population will peak at 1.45 billion in 2027. Does the slowdown in growth mean that the year of zero population growth will come earlier? Thank you.

Ning Jizhe:

Allow me to answer this question. This is a question of trend analysis. The census data shows that China's population growth has slowed down, with an average annual growth rate of 0.53% over the past decade, which is a 0.04 percentage point decrease from the previous decade. This trend is the result of multiple factors. The main reasons are the continued decline in the number of women of childbearing age, especially those in their prime, the delay of people's chosen time for having a child, and the increase in the cost of childbirth and raising a family. All of these factors have led to a tightening of the birth population size. This is the objective result of China's economic development, especially industrialization and urbanization, which has reached a certain stage, and it is also a common problem faced by the world, especially developed countries. According to the results of this census, China's population is still the largest in the world, and has continued to grow, with an increase of 72.06 million over the past ten years. When compared to the increase of 73.9 million in the previous decade, the scale of growth is slightly decreased, but basically the same. There are mainly three factors that matter:

First, China's population has maintained a certain level of inertial growth. China has a large population base. At present, there are more than 300 million women at childbearing age, and we are able to sustain around 10 million births every year.

Second, the adjustment of the fertility policy has achieved positive results. The number of births has rebounded rapidly since the implementation of the two-child policy for couples where either the husband or wife is from a single-child family, and the universal two-child policy. According to the census data, the number of children aged 0-14 reached 253.38 million in 2020, 30.92 million more than in 2010, and the proportion of children rose by 1.35 percentage points.

Third, the life expectancy of the population has continued to increase. This is because of rapid economic and social development, continuous improvements in living standards and a significant improvement in medical and health conditions. The obvious improvement in the health conditions of the people have led to the fact that the annual number of deaths in China has been less than the number of births, and the total population has maintained its growth trend. These positive factors of population growth will continue to play a role for some time to come.

Judging from the trend of China's population development and changes in recent years, we can see that the population growth rate will continue to slow down in the future. At the same time, population growth is also affected by economic and social factors such as the age structure of the population, people's fertility choices, fertility policies, fertility costs, and public health. China's population will reach its peak in the future, but the exact timing is uncertain, and it is expected that the total population of China will remain above 1.4 billion for some time in the future. The results of the census also show that China's working age population group, aged from 16 to 59, is about 880 million, so the labor force is still abundant. Through this census, the average age of the Chinese population is 38.8 years old. On the whole, we are still a young and vigorous country. The United States recently released its latest census data, and their average age is 38, which is about the same as ours.

Next, we should continue to pay attention to changes in population growth and actively respond to the various risks and challenges that may arise in demographic development. Thank you.

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