As high living costs and an aversion to having children among urban couples drive China closer to a demographic crunch, China’s once-a-decade census is expected to show a further drop in the percentage of young people in its fast-aging population.
Policymakers are under pressure to create family planning incentives and save the world’s most populated nation from slipping into an unsustainable demographic decline if successful steps are not taken.
In the coming days, China is scheduled to announce the results of its most recent census, which was conducted in late 2020. The proportion of elderly people in the population is thought to have increased, but the data on the country’s youth would be more significant.
Because of a decades-old one-child strategy, the proportion of the population aged 14 or younger fell to 16.60 percent in 2010 from 22.89 percent in 2000. Citizens aged 60 and up accounted for 13.26% of the population, up from around 10% previously.
If these patterns continue, China’s working-age population will suffer, as will productivity. A declining workforce would put the country’s capacity to pay for and care for an aging population to the test.
China abolished the one-child policy in 2016 in the hopes of increasing the number of infants. It has set a goal of increasing its population from 1.34 billion in 2010 to about 1.42 billion by 2020.
However, the birth rate has continued to fall.
This is due in part to the fact that, amid parental pressure, urban couples prioritize their freedom and jobs over starting a family.
Yu Tao, 31, a Beijing-based product designer for a major tech company, said he was hesitant to make the time commitment that would be needed if he and his wife had a child.
He typically gets home from work about midnight, if not later.
“I like my balance right now, how I balance between my work and personal life, and I don’t think I can still be in this good balance once I have a child,” Yu said.