China’s population crosses 1.4 billion, birthrate shows decline amid fears of shrinking workforce

China, which had a strict one-child policy since 1980 to control its population growth, changed its family planning rules in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about its fast-aging population and shrinking workforce.

Created On: May 11, 2021 11:17 ISTModified On: May 11, 2021 11:17 IST

China's population has risen over the past decade by 72 million to 1.411 billion in 2020, as per the National Bureau of Statistics.

China's population has grown by more than five percent over the past decade to surpass 1.4 billion people. This was informed when the nation unveiled its census results.

However, the birthrate has shown a steady decline raising the nation's fears over its shrinking workforce and aging population. 

Key Highlights 

•According to an official from the National Bureau of Statistics, the data shows that the population of China maintained a mild growth momentum in the past decade.

•Since 2017 in fact, China's birthrate has shown a steady decline. This comes despite China's relaxation of its decades-old "one-child policy" amid fears that an aging population and a slowing birth rate pose a looming demographic crisis for the country.

•China conducts the census once every ten years to determine population growth, movement patterns and other trends. The sensitive data that is collected during the process plays a significant role in government policy planning.

•The census of the past decade showed a 5.4 percent increase in population. 

•However, the nation recorded its slowest birthrate since 1949 in the year 2019, at 10.48 per 1,000 people.

•As per the preliminary data published in February, the birth rate was also down significantly in 2020, although the number of actual births has not yet been announced.

China's shrinking workforce

•Though the percentage of children in China's population has increased in comparison to 2010, the percent of those aged above 60 years has increased faster. 

•The pool of potential workers aged between 15 to 59 years in China have decreased to 894 million, down about 5% from a 2011 peak of 925 million.

•China's working-age population fell to 63.3 percent from 70.1 percent a decade ago.

•The change in the one-child policy was expected to promote a rebound in the birthrate. However, around 12 million babies were born in 2020, which would be down by 18 percent from 2019's report of 14.6 million.

China's demographic time bomb

•China along with few other developing nations including Thailand are aging fast and these nations face the challenge of whether it can grow rich before it grows old. Some forecasters have warned China faces a "demographic time bomb."

•The nation is increasingly concerned about the fast decline in its working-age population. The population of its potential workers aged between 15 to 59 years is expected to fall from three-quarters of the total in 2011 to just above half by 2050.

•If the population gets too old, it would be impossible to solve the problem, said some experts urging that this needs to be dealt with at an early stage.

•The decline in the working-age population will also impact China's economic growth.


•China's population census was completed in December 2020 with the help of almost over seven million volunteers who surveyed residents door-to-door.

China, which had a strict one-child policy since 1980 to control its population growth, changed its family planning rules •in 2016 to allow families to have two children. This came as fears grew about China's fast-aging population and shrinking workforce.

•However, there have been concerns that the policy change is yet to produce the expected baby boom to help offset the country's aging population.

•The key reasons for the same are falling marriage rates and couples struggling with the high cost of raising children in major cities. Other reasons include women naturally delaying or avoiding childbirth due to their growing empowerment.

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