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China’s Birth Rate Hits a Record: the Lowest in 43 Years

According to the recently released “China Statistical Yearbook 2021,” China’s birth rate in 2020 was 8.52 per 1,000 people. It thus fell below 10 per 1,000 for the first time. This is the lowest rate in the past 43 years. There were 12 million births in 2020, about one-third fewer than the 17.86 million in 2016.

According to the Yearbook, China’s natural population growth rate (birth rate minus death rate) for 2020 was 1.45 per 1,000. This is a record low since 1978. Experts predict that, at the earliest, a negative growth rate is likely to occur during the 14th Five-Year Plan period  i.e., the 2021-2025 period.

In 1987, the birth rate was as high as 23.3 per 1,000, and the natural growth rate that year was as high as 16.61 per 1,000, both of which were historical highs for the period of more than 40 years.

The Chinese Communist Party adopted a law in August 2021 to lessen its control of planned parenthood by allowing three children per couple.

As young people are not responsive to the policy change, at least 12 provinces and cities in China, including Shanghai, Hebei, Henan, Tianjin, Guizhou, Anhui, Shanxi, and Shaanxi, have issued the “Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Application Plan (2021-2025)” The purpose of the plan was to increase assisted reproductive service agencies in order to help infertile couples with artificial insemination.

Among them, Sichuan Province plans to increase the number of institutions in the next five years by 20, Shaanxi Province 10, Anhui Province by 10, Shanxi five, Tianjin two more, and Hebei Province up to five.

At the end of June last year, China had 523 assisted reproductive medical institutions. Among them, there were 56 in Guangdong and 33 in Jiangsu Province. There are 27 medical institutions approved to set up human sperm banks, including two in Beijing, Shanghai, and Henan Province, respectively.


1.) China Business Network, November 15, 2021

2.) The Paper, November 21, 2021