Increased efforts are required to encourage births as population growth slows

A medical team from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province treats patients in Aksu during a work tour in Xinjiang. [YUAN HUANHUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Demographers have called for more effective implementation of support measures to encourage births to cope with the country’s declining population growth, as reported in the recently released China Statistical Yearbook 2021.

The birth rate last year was 8.52 births per thousand people, the lowest level since 1978, according to the yearbook, which was compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics and released over the weekend.

The rate of natural increase (the difference between the birth rate and the death rate) fell to 1.45 per thousand, also the lowest rate in 43 years, according to the yearbook.

According to an article published in May in the journal Population Research, which is affiliated with the China Population and Development Research Center, the birth rate from January to September of last year fell 20 to 30 percent from the same period in 2015. However, the birth rate in November and December of last year fell 45% compared to the same period in 2015, mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zhai Zhenwu, director of the Center for Population Development Studies at Renmin University of China, said the decline in China’s birth rate is mainly due to the sharp decline in the number of women of childbearing age and to the reluctance of people to have more children.

The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to have a delayed and larger impact on the country’s birth rate this year, which is expected to decline further, he said.

Dong Yuzheng, director of the Guangdong Population Development Academy, said the combination of economic pressures and the impact of the pandemic had discouraged people from wanting to have children.

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