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China reports first population drop in six decades

China on Tuesday announced its first population decline in six decades. Associated Press/Photo by Mark Schiefelbein

China reports first population drop in six decades

China’s population last year declined for the first time since 1961, according to official figures published Tuesday. The country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported a drop of roughly 850,000 people from 2021 to 2022, marking the first decline since the last year of China’s Great Famine. Over one million fewer babies were born in China in 2022 than in 2021, according to the bureau’s data. The 2022 death rate was 7.37 deaths per 1,000 people, the highest since 1974 during the Cultural Revolution.

What caused the drop? Much of the downturn can be attributed to China’s one-child policy that was enforced from 1980 to 2015 and that led to forced abortions and sterilizations. The policy and traditional preferences for male children also created a gender imbalance in the population that resulted in fewer families being formed. Increasing education and living costs have also deterred many young people from having children, further compounding the issue of a rapidly aging workforce.

Dig deeper: Read June Cheng’s story from WORLD Magazine about the end of China’s birth limitations and how the policy led to millions of abortions.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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