China’s population growth rate is at its slowest pace in decades according to the government’s census released earlier in May. The yearly rate went down from 0.57% from 2000 to 2010 to 0.53% from 2010 to 2020, bringing the population to 1.41 billion. There was a significant decrease in the number of babies born last year according to Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics. From 18 million newborns in 2016, only 12 million babies were born in 2020. The results prompted the government to boost measures for couples to have more babies. The census began in late 2020, with seven million census takers going door-to-door to gather information from households.

Ning said that the lower birthrate is a natural effect of China’s economic and social development. As countries advance, birth rates tend to become lower due to the population focusing on other priorities such as education and career. Shrinking populations pose some problems with its inverted age structure since there are more older people than young people. It means that the country may not have enough labor force to support its elderly in the future. The Chinese government ended the controversial one-child policy of 1979 in 2016 and is now allowing couples to have two children. Despite the immediate increase in the birth rate following the reform, it did not succeed in increasing the country’s birth rate afterward. Experts have told various media outlets that population decline in China could happen over the next few years. “It will in 2021 or 2022, or very soon,” Huang Wenzhang, a demography expert at the Centre for China and Globalization told the media.