Commentary: Why China’s shrinking, ageing population is a big deal

Commentary: Why China’s shrinking, ageing population is a big deal

IRVINE, California: Throughout much of documented human history, China has boasted the largest people in the world – plus until recently, simply by some margin. Therefore news that the Chinese populace is now in drop , and will at some point later this year become surpassed by that of India , is huge news even if long predicted.

As a scholar of Chinese demographics, I know that the figures released by Chinese government on Tuesday (Jan 17), showing that for the first time in six decades, deaths in the last year outnumbered births is no mere blip.

Whilst that previous calendar year of shrinkage, 1961 – during the Great Leap Forward economic failing, in which an estimated 30 million people passed away of starvation : represented a change from the trend, 2022 is a pivot. It is the onset of what exactly is likely to be a long-term decline.

By the end of the hundred years, the Chinese populace is expected to shrink by 45 per cent, according to the United Nations. And that is under the assumption that China maintains its current fertility rate of around 1 . 3 children per few , which it might not.

This drop in numbers will certainly spur a pattern that already concerns demographers in Cina: A rapidly aging society. By 2040, around a quarter of the Chinese population is predicted to be older than 65.

In short, this is a seismic change. It will have huge representational and substantive affects on China in three main places.