China's birth rate has reached a record low last year, according to official data on Monday.
Citing demographers, Global Times reported that the number of newborns in the Chinese mainland dropped to 10.62 million in 2021, close to the number of deaths.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday, the population of the Chinese mainland at the end of 2021 was 14.13 billion, Global Times reported. The number of newborns in the Chinese mainland dropped to 10.62 million last year, down from 12 million in 2020 and marking a drop for the fifth consecutive year, the report said.
Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, said that the decline of newborns was mainly caused by the continued decrease in the number of women of childbearing age, as 2021 has seen about 5 million fewer women of childbearing age between 15 and 49 than in the previous year. Other factors included delaying marriage and births due to the fertility concept of couples and the pandemic, Ning said.
The number of deaths recorded in 2021 was 10.14 million, Global Times said.
China’s birth rates have been steadily falling for years now, mostly because young people can't afford to have kids, and more financially independent women have decided to embrace a single, childless lifestyle.
The combination of low fertility rates and an aging population has driven the government to roll out a wide range of policies to encourage births, including relaxing its decades-long one-child policy and offering extended benefits to couples having a second child, reported SupChina.
In an article published in December 2020, Civil Affairs Minister Li Jiheng had urged the government to introduce more effective measures to boost the country's "dangerously low" birth rate.
In an online poll (in Chinese) involving nearly 57,000 Weibo users, Sina Finance found that more than 75 per cent of the respondents cited "high living costs" as the primary reason for their decision to not have babies, reported SupChina.