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Chinese Demographic Crisis

Declining Chinese Population Graph
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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

New numbers from China’s National Bureau of Statistics show that the ruling Communist Party has gotten too much of what it wished for. In the late 1970s, in order to slow the country’s rapid population growth, the Chinese state began limiting how many children families could have. This became China’s one-child-per-family policy, which was sometimes administered via community policing, draconian fines, and forced abortion and sterilization. Chinese parents, anxious for sons, engaged in sex-selective abortion which accounts for what the Wall Street Journal describes as “a significant male-female imbalance.”

China has long been the world’s most populous country and still is, with a population of 1.4 billion. But, in 2022, China’s population declined for the first time since the 1960s when tens of millions of people died from famines caused by Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward.”  Last year’s 850,000-person decline in population was accompanied by a 3-percent drop in the growth of China’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Journal points out that “except for the first year of the pandemic in 2020 this is China’s worst economic performance since the 1970s….the functional equivalent of a recession for a developing economy still trying to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. ”

The “one mouth six pockets” pyramid has flipped. Parents and grandparents of only children retire with fewer young people to support them. In hopes of reviving population growth, the Communist Party announced in 2016 that it was dropping its one-child policy. There was a brief uptick in births, but the decline resumed the next year. The Party wants more children, but the public is not cooperating. Perhaps it’s conditioning. Plus, Covid-19 restrictions and a new pessimism about the economy have fueled a reluctance among young people to have more than one child.

In 2021, China began allowing couples to have three children. Local governments have offered monetary rewards, longer maternity leaves, and even cash birth allowances.

But population growth simply cannot be forced.penna's vp small

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