What China’s Declining Population Means on a Global Level

Rewrite this contentJanuary 21, 2023photo source, Getty ImagesWhat does China’s recent population decline mean for global population trends? ‘BBC Future’ answered five key questions related to this.At midnight on July 1, 1982, China went into great business. It was a project to figure out exactly what the Chinese population was at that time. China’s population has not been checked by anyone since 1964. Because of this, no one could have guessed what the outcome would be. China has been preparing for this project for years. It prepared 29 computers, including at least 21 American-made computers brought in through a special process, and trained 5 million employees. And they diligently identified every household member in China over the next few months.In October of that year, the New York Times ran a headline that said, “China’s population is 1,081,752,88, a quarter of the world’s.” After decades of growth, China’s population has crossed the staggering threshold of one billion. At the time, in China, a baby was born every two seconds.In 1980, China introduced a one-child policy with the explicit goal of bringing population growth to zero. This policy was maintained for 36 years until 2016. However, it is only recently that China’s population has entered “negative growth”, starting to decline for the first time in 60 years. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China’s population in 2022 was 1.14118 billion. It is about 850,000 fewer than the population of 2021. The decline in the birth rate over the past six years, with the number of births per 1,000 people hitting an all-time low of 6.77, has had an impact.Views on these changes are mixed. On the one hand, there is concern about what this will mean for the global economy. On the other hand, there are positive hopes that ‘continued prosperity may not depend solely on population growth as historically assumed’. The British charity Population Matters argues that China’s stabilizing population should be viewed positively in terms of potential environmental benefits and well-being of the Chinese people.However, the rapid change in the world’s most populous country certainly raises many uncertainties and implications for the future. Is China’s population decline really surprising? How will this affect Earth? ‘BBC Future’ looked at five questions for this.Why did it take so long for China’s population to decline?In 1991, just a few years after the one-child policy began, China’s fertility rate fell below replacement levels. From one generation to the next, fewer children were born than were needed to sustain the total population. In most countries, this figure is usually around 2.1. An additional 0.1 is added to offset those who died as infants, one for each woman and one for each woman’s source, Getty Imagespicture explanation, China is the world’s largest consumer of natural resources, including fossil fuels, but the United States has the highest per capita consumption.But in the years that followed, China’s population continued to grow. It wasn’t because the controversial plan (the one-child policy) had failed. It was due to a counterintuitive effect known as “demographic momentum.” This effect explains the situation in China, where women gave birth to fewer than 2.1 children, but the death rate remained unchanged and the population continued to grow for decades due to little migration.This effect is all due to the time difference between birth and death. Until recently, China’s population was relatively young, averaging 35 years old, compared to Germany’s 44.3 years old in 2010 (currently 38.4 years old). At the same time, people live longer. By 2021, life expectancy in China will overtake that in the United States. So while the number of babies born per woman has plummeted, there are still more babies born than deaths.But now things have changed. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is known that the number of deaths has increased slightly and the birth rate has declined. This may have played a role in accelerating the absolute decline that China has long expected.Will China’s population decline affect global population projections?In its 2022 World Population Prospects Report, the United Nations predicted that China’s population would decline from 2023. The decline confirmed in China’s latest census was expected years ago, and the actual change in demographics came only slightly earlier than expected.Various forecasts for the world population have already predicted changes in China’s population. The United Nations, along with projections for other countries, predicted that China’s population would begin to decline in 2023, and to reflect this, the total population of the planet continues to grow, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030 and 10.4 billion in 2086. predicted to reach its peak. This is the ‘intermediate’ scenario, in which fertility rates in high fertility countries will flatten while those in low fertility countries will increase source, Getty Imagespicture explanation, India is set to become the most populous country in the world this yearAlistair Curry, head of communications for population issues, said: “There is a rapid population decline in China right now, but the situation is different outside of China.Most of the population growth will occur in sub-Saharan African countries. These countries are expected to contribute more than half of the population growth between now and 2050. In particular, as Nigeria becomes the fourth most populous country on the planet, the region’s population is expected to double over that period.According to Shuang Chen, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, focusing solely on China’s population numbers misses the point. Of course, she concedes that China’s declining population may be beneficial to climate change.In 2022, 27% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere came from China. And China now builds more than half of all new coal-fired power plants on the planet.”But what’s really concerning socially is what that means in terms of structure,” Chen said. “Things are changing really fast, so society may not have time to adapt.”Which country will overtake China to become the most populous country?In its 2022 report, the United Nations predicted that by 2023, India would become the most populous country in the world. In light of the census results, some scholars say that India is already the world’s most populous country.India’s population is projected to continue growing from 1.417 billion in 2022 to 1.515 billion in 2030. Two factors are expected to be effective. One thing is that the birth rate remains high while the death rate decreases due to advances in medicine. And the other is the age structure of the population. India’s population is about 10 years younger than China’s average. Because of this, there are more people of childbearing age overall.How does China’s fertility rate compare to those of other countries?China’s fertility rate has declined steadily since the 1990s. In 2020, it hit an all-time low of 1.28. In the same year, India recorded a fertility rate of 2.05 children per woman. The US had 1.64. Even Japan, which is notorious for its low birth rate and aging population, had a birth rate of source, Getty Imagespicture explanation, China has some of the most populous cities on EarthSeveral factors contributed to the steep downward trajectory of China’s fertility rate.First of all, there is an imbalance between men and women. The one-child policy has resulted in a distorted sex ratio. There was a traditional preference in China for baby girls to be aborted, abandoned or even killed. Currently, there are 11 men for every 10 women in some age groups. This means that 1 in 11 men will find it difficult to find a partner of the same age.Other factors include the rising cost of living and the tendency to delay marriage.Changes in values ​​have also had an impact here. China introduced a two-child policy in 2015. But Chinese women now consider the ideal number of children to be one, two or zero, the survey found. And the issue has become even more complicated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anger over lockdowns and other restrictions has led to the trend of the hashtag “#We are last generation” on social media, showing a strengthening of negative perceptions about childbirth.Will China’s population continue to decline?Over the past 200 years, many developed countries have undergone a “demographic shift”. A population that initially grew at a rapid rate eventually switched from a high birth rate and death rate to a low birth rate and death rate. China is considered a “post-transition” society that has already completed this cycle.So what will happen next is somewhat unclear. As the population ages and the number of women of childbearing age decreases overall, China’s fertility rate is expected to continue to decline. But there are two big is migration So far, the immigration rate into China has been extremely low. But Currie said this trend could change as China attempts to grow its economy. There is also the impact of measures created by the government to encourage people to have children. So far, these policies have not proven very effective, but some experts fear the Chinese government may adopt more coercive…