Will China Survive Demographic Winter?

10 February 2022

1.7 MINS

Despite China’s recent belated attempt to reverse its impending population decline, it will probably not be able to stave off the resulting economic downturn. This is also the case across all heavily industrialised countries.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of newborns in China fell to a historic low last year, despite the government’s emphasis on raising the fertility rate. This leads many to ask, “Will China survive demographic winter?”

Ruth Institute Communications Director Don Feder said,

“Having spent decades using the most draconian methods to limit population growth, including forced abortions, Beijing is now desperate to increase fertility.”

Steep Decline

Last year, China recorded 10.62 million births, down from 12.02 million in 2020. Births barely exceeded the number of deaths (10.14 million). Feder remarked,

“Sometime in the next few years, China’s population will start to fall. Once that happens, descent could become rapid.”

Replacement fertility is 2.1. In 2020, China’s fertility rate was 1.3, one of the lowest in the world. Feder warned,

“Demographers say that once a nation’s total fertility rate goes below 1.3, recovery is impossible.”

He further noted:

“The proportion of China’s population over 60 is now 18.9%. That’s expected to more than double to 39% by 2050. What will the People’s Republic do when pensions for the elderly exceed taxes paid by workers? The nation is already experiencing a labor shortage.”

Too Little, Too Late

The regime is trying to address this by such policies as making it harder to get a vasectomy. Some hospitals refuse to perform the procedure unless the patient can prove he’s married and has children.

Local governments have offered longer maternity leaves and are organising matchmaking events. The latter will be hampered by the fact that, due to decades of the one-child policy and the traditional Chinese preference for male children, among 20-to 40-year-olds, men now outnumber women by 17.5 million.

Worldwide Problem

Feder observed,

“Beijing crippled its birthrate with its hideous one-child policy. But every industrialized nation is grappling with falling fertility. Elderly populations are rising while the number of young workers is falling. Who will do society’s vital work in a nation where fewer and fewer are born each year?”

Ruth Institute President Dr Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, added,

“We at the Ruth Institute take this very seriously. For the past two years, we’ve had a speaker on Demographic Winter at our annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Last year, we launched our Demographic Winter Resource Center. We invite everyone to check out this resource and educate themselves on a growing worldwide problem.”


Originally published at The Ruth Institute. Photo by Angela Roma from Pexels.

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