China's population fell by 850,000 in 2022 but 'labor resources still abundant'

2023-02-28 15:27:31Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China's population had fallen by 850,000 in the year of 2022, with the national population growth rate being minus 0.6 per thousand, the country's National Statistics Bureau announced on Tuesday.

Demographers whisked away negative mood on the declining numbers, saying that it is time to improve the quality of the population to make out for the decrease in births.

China recorded a 1.41 billion population by the end of 2022, a decrease of 850,000 compared with last year. The country witnessed a birth rate of 6.77 per thousand, whilst a death rate of 7.37 per thousand, which makes the birth rate of minus 0.6 per thousand, the bureau said on Tuesday.

Last month, the bureau announced that the population in the Chinese mainland recorded negative growth for the first time in 61 years.

Cai Fang, former deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said during a seminar on Sunday that there's no need to be pessimistic about the decline in birth rate. It is time for China to create conditions to improve the quality of the population to make out for the decrease, and to replace factor inputs with productivity.

He believed that the declining population, along with COVID-19, exerted a certain impact on the country's consumption. He suggested to fairly and more effectively distribute labor forces, elevate the income of those with low salaries, and expand wide equal access to basic public goods among the public.

Cai believed that the remaining 900 million population of labor age can not only supply the labor force, but also act as the basis of China's consumption market.

Li Daokui, a prominent Chinese economist, also said at the third China Population and Development Forum in February that there are a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations in the economic circle and even broader society. Such views as "aging affects aggregate economic demand," "working-age population keeps decreasing" and "aging affects social innovation vitality" do not stand up to scrutiny.

Studies by Li's team have shown that although the country's total population has reached its peak and the peak of total labor force participation has long passed, China's total human resources will continue to grow before 2040 and will remain stable from 2040 to 2050 thanks to increasingly levels of both health and education.

Wang Pingping, a senior official from National Statistics Bureau said in January that although the population declined in 2022, China still has 1.4 billion people and the population dividend and vast market advantage still exist. The country still owns huge labor resources, as population within labor ages amounts to 900 million.

The official said that the population dividend started emerging as the education level of this group is improving. In 2022, the average education span for people aged between 16-59 reached 10.93 years, an increase of 0.11 compared with that of 2021.

Cai suggested that the government should also pay more attention to the support of the aging group, as the population within labor age is shrinking whilst the retired group is expanding.

This changed proportion has fundamentally changed the rationale behind our social security system, said Cai, noting that the pay-as-you-go mechanism behind the current social security system may not work with the emergency of the new population trend, thus the pension system needs a new design.


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