China and it's alarming population decline. What it means to the world?
When China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that the country’s total population declined by 850,000 between 2021 and 2022, it might appear as if it is not a big number. However, this is an alarming situation for various reasons. If this goes on, the rest of the world shall also be subject to consequences because China is the second largest economy of the world and with aged population dominating the country, one can see a growth-lag both nationally and on a global scale.
The History Behind Decreasing Population in China:
It was in 1961, during the deadliest famine that China’s population declined drastically. The country recovered from the population crisis in just two decades to an extent that in the 1980s, the government introduced the one-child policy. It also forced the couples to have just one child and implemented insensitive practices such as forced abortions, huge fines and evictions. This continued for more than three decades. However, looking at the declining birth rate, the government lifted the policy in 2015 raising the number of children to two and in 2021, to three. It announced financial incentives as well to those with more than one child.
The Result :
Though government implemented several measures to improve the birth rate, there are no visible results yet. An array of factors like minimal wages and high cost of living, expensive property prices, education and heath services, decline in job opportunities, stressful working conditions etc have made the Chinese youth reluctant to have even one child.
On the other hand, discrimination on the part of women by imposing on them, the complete burden of child bearing and rearing, increased reports on work-place discrimination with respect to their marital and parental status have turned them reluctant to marry and bear children. Women, who turned educated and financially independent are unwilling to shoulder such unfair practices. In view of this, some Chinese cities introduced paternity leaves and childcare services too but that wasn’t enough.
Adding up to everything, was China’s zero-covid policy that dissolved the spirits of youngsters to make decent livelihoods.
What’s the Outcome for China?
It’s evident. Older population will now outnumber the youngsters. This leads to an increased number of older people in the workforce which means the workforce is a slow-shrinking ship. To drive country’s growth curve ahead and to cater to the industrialization, China wouldn’t have reliable, cost-competitive labor force. China’s economy has already fallen due to COVID lockdowns, recovering from which is further challenging with the decline in population. The impact shall also be on China’s social security. All these would shadow China’s ambitions to become the wealthiest nation of the world overpowering the United States.
What’s in Store for India and the World?
The world has already witnessed the impact on trade and commerce that came with China’s lockdowns and covid restrictions. There are high chances for India, which can now become the most populous country, to become the biggest economy too. India is already in the fifth position after surpassing the UK.
There’s an optimistic side to all this. Environmentalists say that the decline in China’s population helps in climate change. Though few experts opine that population decline has little to do with a nation’s growth, they are clearly interlinked. This situation, though was well predicted before, was not anticipated this early. Let’s see how China deals with this and how the rest of the world sets the ground ready to battle the upcoming challenges.