Births in China drop for fifth-straight year


China announced on Monday that its birth rate has decreased for the fifth year in a row.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that 10.6 million babies were born last year, marking a 12 percent decrease from 2020. Overall, the population stood at 1.413 billion, up 480,000 from the past year, according to NBC News

For China, which is currently the world’s most populous country, the declining birth rate could have a significant impact on the economy.

With fewer births and longer life expectancies, concerns of possible labor shortages have swelled, an issue that could also contribute to other economic problems like decreased tax revenue and a reduction in overall economic growth, The New York Times reported

In an effort to address the falling birth rate, China’s Communist Party has loosened a policy that previously permitted only one child per family. 

In a change made effective in 2016, married couples were permitted to have two children, and last year, that limit was increased to three in an effort to “actively deal with the aging population.”

The country has also attempted to incentivize young families with improved workplace policies and early education opportunities.

China has made use of birth limits since the 1980s. The policy has been enforced using threats of fines or unemployment and has prompted abuses including forced abortions. 

China’s preference for sons has also resulted in parents killing baby girls, fueling a significant sex imbalance.