The number of newborn babies in China sunk to a near six-decade low last year, reinforcing worries about the cost of a lower birth rate on the economy and the country’s ability to support its rapidly ageing population in the year ahead, reported the South China Morning Post.
Chinese mothers gave birth to 14.65 million babies last year, down from 15.23 million in 2018, according to data from National Bureau of Statistics released on Friday. Last year’s figure was the lowest since 1961.
China’s overall population continued to grow, rising to 1.4 billion at the end of the year from 1.39 billion a year earlier.
The weak birth data was within the expectations of many veteran demographers who for years called for the Chinese government to abandon its one-child birth policy – which ended in 2016 – because of the damage it would do to future economic growth and the nation’s ability to support its ageing population. Fewer births mean fewer wage earners and fewer consumers in the future.