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China’s First-Child Birthrate Drops to 0.5

From 2019 to 2022, China experienced a significant decline in its fertility rate for first children, dropping from 0.7 to 0.5. This decline has raised concerns among population experts, who are now urging attention be paid to the growing trend of lifelong singleness and childlessness. Chinese authorities had previously estimated that the total number of newborns in China last year fell below 10 million for the first time and it is expected to continue declining this year, dropping below 8 million.

The internationally recognized replacement level fertility rate is 1.5, which is considered a critical threshold. When the fertility rate falls below 1.5, a country enters a low fertility trap. The Population and Development Research Center of China, a government think tank, has observed that China’s total fertility rate dropped from 1.52 in 2019 to 1.07 in 2022.

Of particular concern is the decline in the fertility rate for first-child births, which has decreased from 0.7 to 0.5. Additionally, the average age of first-time mothers has increased from 26.4 to 27.4 years old. This decline in the first-child fertility is expected to further reduce the rates of second and third-child births, exacerbating the overall downward trend in fertility levels.

A recent article published by the magazine Chinese Philanthropist estimated that the latest maternal records in Chinese hospitals suggest that the number of newborns this year will be less than 8 million. Some doctors have even estimated that the number of registered pregnant women has decreased by one-third compared to previous years.

An online article highlights the seriousness of a mere 8 million new births. With a total of 3,032 obstetrics and gynecology hospitals in China, an average of only 7 newborns per hospital per day is far from normal. This situation may lead to a crisis in the entire industry, from childbirth to childcare, as it puts immense strain on resources and facilities.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), June 6, 2023