China’s National Bureau of Statistics has confirmed what researchers such as myself have long suspected – that 2022 was the year China’s population turned down, the first time that has happened since the great famine brought on by Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1959-1961.
Unlike the famine, whose effects were temporary, and followed by steady population growth, this downturn will be long-lasting, even if it is followed by a temporary rebound in births, bringing forward the day the world’s population peaks and starts to shrink.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday that China’s population fell to 1.412 billion in 2022 from 1.413 billion in 2021, a decrease of 8,50,000.
The Bureau reported 9.56 million births in 2022, down from 10.62 million in 2021. The number of births per thousand people slid from 7.52 to 6.77.
China’s total fertility rate, the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime, was fairly flat at an average about 1.66 between 1991 and 2017 under the influence of China’s one-child policy, but then fell to 1.28 in 2020 and 1.15 in 2021.
The 2021 rate of 1.15 is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 generally thought necessary to sustain a population, also well below the US and Australian rates of 1.7 and 1.6, and…