Births in China fell sharply last year as the coronavirus pandemic intensified the scale of the demographic challenge facing the world’s most populous nation, reported the Financial Times.
They dropped 15% from 2019, according to data from the country’s Ministry of Public Security, with 10.04 million births in the country last year compared with 11.79 million a year earlier based on household registrations.
“We’ve known for some time there would be a decline, but such a big drop was beyond our expectations,” said Huang Wenzheng, a demography expert at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think-tank. “We believe [last year’s decline] is related to Covid: that households are more worried now.”
“It’s very clear from those numbers that the negative demographic spiral in which China finds itself is serious, is powerful, and will cause really large-scale fundamental problems,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist at Crédit Agricole in Hong Kong.