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Plummeting Fertility in China Likely to Sustain Population Decline into Next Century

China’s birth rate has fallen sharply, leading to negative population growth that is likely to continue into the next century, according to Chinese economists. This will not only affect the labor supply but also slow economic growth. Zuo Xuejin, former Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences executive, said at a recent economic forum that coping with demographic changes and creating high-quality growth [in the Chinese economy] would require speeding up the country’s transition to a demand-centric economy and increasing investment in human capital.

Since the country’s total fertility hit a record low in 2022, China’s various policies aimed at increasing the birth rate have met with limited success. Experts believe negative population growth will persist as fertility remains far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. Modeling shows that, even with optimistic assumptions regarding a rebound in fertility, China’s population decline could continue through 2097. If current lower fertility rates continue, negative growth may persist into the 2100’s.

The urban concentration of population and economic activity in major coastal and inland city clusters will continue even as cities face depopulation. Local governments would do well to avoid wasted infrastructure investment in the face of population decline.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), November 5, 2023