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No negative population growth yet

China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-07 07:57
A newborn baby. [Photo/IC]


China allowed all couples to have two children in 2016 to cushion the effect of its fast aging society. But the number of newborns has remained markedly lower than expected over the past two years. Beijing News comments:

According to a sample survey of 1 percent of the national population in 2015, the National Bureau of Statistics says China's fertility rate-the average number of children each woman of child-bearing age has-remains at 1.04, lower than in some developed countries.

Based on the low fertility rate, some argue that China's population entered an almost irreversible negative growth phase last year, as the number of newborns plummet to a new low below 10 million last year, less than the number of deaths. They claim that the number of births in China last year has been the smallest since the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), even if the population base is more than four times that of the Qing Dynasty.

Which is wrong. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of newborns in 2017 was 17.23 million. Although the number in 2018 has not been revealed yet by the central authorities it cannot have abruptly plunged below 10 million. The data released by local governments indicate the newborns last year might be 10 percent to 15 percent less than in 2017, which means there would be about 15 million to 16 million new births, which will be markedly higher than the number of deaths in the country.

A research report published by the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Saturday citing data from the World Bank concluded that China's national fertility rate remains around 1.6, which if maintained means negative population growth will not come until 2027.

It is high time the NBS enlarged the scale of its sample survey to make its fertility rate more accurate and objective to reflect the real changes of the population size. Otherwise, policymakers might arrive at the wrong conclusions.

And to boost the desire of couples to have children, the government needs to further improve its public services and increase its input in education, medical care and care for the elderly.

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