China admits birth rates fell in nine provinces in 2021

Birth rates in nine Chinese provinces and autonomous regions fell in 2021, the state government said Global Times reported on Wednesday.

“From Sunday [April 3]23 provinces and autonomous regions in China had released demographic birth rate data for 2021. The data showed that nine provinces experienced natural negative population growth in 2021,” according to the state-run Chinese newspaper.

The nine provinces and regions included Hebei (which surrounds China’s capital Beijing), Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shanxi, Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai and Heilongjiang.

“Among them, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi all recorded negative natural population growth rates for the first time in recent decades,” they said Global Times noted on 6.4.

China consists of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.

“In terms of fertility rates, only two out of 23 provinces — Guizhou and Qinghai — had fertility rates higher than 1 percent [in 2021],” that Global Times observed Wednesday.

China’s declining birth rate is a result of the country’s decades-long child restrictions on married couples. The Chinese Communist Party enforced a strict one-child policy on almost all families from around 1980 to 2016 and enforced it through forced abortions and infanticide. The party imposed the measure in the late 1970s to curb China’s then explosive population growth. The policy has been expanded to allow married couples to have up to two children in 2016 and three again in August 2021.

A couple pushes their child in a stroller between bicycles at a busy intersection in Beijing June 2, 2021, days after China announced it would allow couples to have three children. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Beijing was forced to relax its child limits after realizing the measure was having an unforeseen impact on Chinese people. These negative effects included a declining birth rate and distorted demographics. China currently has significantly more men than women after couples predominantly preferred male offspring during the years of the one-child policy. In addition, China’s population is aging.

“China had a 2020 fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman, recent data showed, on par with aging societies like Japan and Italy and well below the roughly 2.1 needed for replacement levels,” Reuters reported in May 2021.

The World Bank defines a total fertility rate as “the number of children a woman would have if she lived to the end of her childbearing age and gave birth to children according to the age-specific fertility rates for the given year. ”

China’s population fell to its lowest level in 60 years in 2021, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in January.

“Over the past year, the total population in mainland China increased by just 480,000, compared with 2.04 million in 2020 and the lowest level in six decades,” China Dailyowned by the Chinese Communist Party’s Public Relations Department was recalled on March 4.

“He Dan, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said China’s population has entered “zero growth territory” — when the difference between births and deaths falls below 1 million,” the newspaper reported at the time .

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