China’s birthrate fell for a fifth straight year in 2021 and, despite the increased emphasis on increasing births, hit the lowest level in modern Chinese history, reports The Wall Street Journal. There were 10.62 million births in 2021, down from 12.02 million in 2020, barely outpacing the 10.14 million deaths in the country. The data, released by the National Bureau of Statistics, indicates that China is approaching peak population.
At the end of 2021, China’s population was 1.413 billion, up only 0.034% from the 1.412 billion at end 2020. The birthrate—the number of births per thousand people—slipped to a fresh low of 7.52 in 2021 compared with 8.52 in 2020, underscoring Beijing’s challenge in brightening a dire demographic picture.
Since an uptick in 2016, when China scrapped the four-decade one-child policy and allowed married couples to have two children, the number of births has slipped every year. The birthrate was already the lowest in the country’s modern history in 2019.