At a press conference on January 18, China’s National Bureau of Statistics postponed the release of 2020 birth data.
In an article on Caixin.com, Liang Jianzhang, the founder of the Trip.com Group and a professor at Peking University, quoted data from local governments and media. The number of births in Wenzhou city in 2020 was 19.01 percent lower than in 2019. Hefei city’s new births in 2020 dropped by 23 percent compared to 2019. The same measure in Taizhou City in 2020 saw a decrease of 32.6 percent. Liang suggested that the fertility rate can be fundamentally reversed only by implementing changes in family planning policies, reducing housing costs, and cutting taxes.
Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Big Country with an Empty Nest, recently tweeted that “today’s Northeast region is China’s tomorrow.”
Yi pointed out that the size of the economy in the northeast region as a percentage of the whole country shrank from 13.1 percent in 1980 to 9.1 percent in 2010 and 5.0 percent in 2020. A key contributor is the aging population.
Yi told Radio Free Asia, “(The central government) predicts that the economy will double by 2035 and that the annual growth rate will average 4.7 percent between 2021 and 2035. From the perspective of population, I think this possibility is very low. China’s economy may be able to maintain a growth rate of 4 percent or 5 percent by 2025, after which the growth rate will continuously decline.”
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the birth rate in the three northeastern provinces in 2019 was only 0.61 percent, even lower than the 0.68 percent birth rate in Japan, the world’s oldest country. The reasons for the decline in the fertility rate in Northeast China, according to Yi, include the high level of urbanization, a high proportion of the population working in the state sector, high compliance with the government’s family planning policy, a low marriage rate and a high divorce rate.
Source: Radio Free Asia, February 2, 2021