Earlier today, the National Bureau of Statistics of China announced the results of China’s seventh national census. The data shows that China’s total population increased 5.38% to 1.41 billion as of 1 November 2020. In contrast to the census results, the Financial Times reported last month that China may see its first population decline in five decades this year.
Data from international statistical agencies suggests that China’s birth rate has dropped significantly since 2017 despite the implementation of the ‘two-child policy’ and government policy encouraging women to give birth. The high cost of living in cities and career motivations are putting off many young couples from starting families.
China is facing a demographic challenge that is not just limited to falling birth rates. The country also has an ageing population with 18.70% of the total population aged over 60, i.e. 264.02 million people. This represents a 5.44% increase from a decade ago.
Ning Jizhe, director of the National Bureau of Statistics of China, sought to reassure people about the census results. He stated that China still has an “abundant labour force” with a working population of 880 million people aged 16-59. He also said that the average age of China’s population is 38.8 years old, which is only just above that which the United States recorded in their most recent census, 38 years.
In response to the news, Weibo users expressed concern about the ageing population expanding further and the long-term impact it will have on China’s economy. Many agreed that the government should take action to address the burden of elderly care on younger generations.