Population growth slows in China

Population growth slows in China
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China's population growth is slowing at the same time as the country's share of working-age adults is shrinking, a census released Tuesday found.

Multiple news outlets reported that China’s National Bureau of Statistics released data indicating that the country saw 12 million births last year, causing its total population to rise slightly to 1.41 billion people. 2020 was the fourth year in a row that the country's birth rate dropped, however.

Additionally, the share of working-age adults dropped to 894 million from a peak of 925 million in 2011.

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The fastest-growing demographic in the country is China's elderly population, according to the census, which found that supporting an aging populace will be one of the country's top challenges in the years ahead.

“Aging has become a basic national condition of China for a period of time to come,” a census official said Tuesday with the data's release, according to The New York Times.

“Low fertility has become a common problem faced by most developed countries, and it will also become a practical problem facing our country,” the official added.

Many young Chinese citizens are reportedly avoiding giving birth due to economic pressures, including house-sharing with older generations, lack of adequate income or discrimination against mothers in the workplace.

The country also faces ongoing social issues presented by the now-defunct "one-child policy," that restricted couples to one child and led to a phenomenon of baby girls being abandoned or killed. That in turn led to a massive gender disparity in China's population. The country has nearly 34 million more men than women.

“China is facing a unique demographic challenge that is the most urgent and severe in the world,” Liang Jianzhang, a professor of applied economics at China's Peking University, told the Times. “This is a long-term time bomb.”