BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s one census in a decade is expected to show that the percentage of young people in the aging population is falling sharply due to the high cost of living and aversion to having children among them. Urban couples bring China closer to its demographic crunch.
Policymakers are under pressure to incentivize family planning and arrest declining birthrates, with the world̵7;s most populous nations at risk of entering an irreversible population if: No effective measures were found.
China is expected to release the latest census results, scheduled for the end of 2020, in the coming days. The proportion of the elderly in the population is believed to be increasing. But more important information is information about young age.
In 2010, the proportion of the population aged 14 and under dropped to 16.60% from 22.89% in 2000 as a result of the decades-old one-child policy. Citizens aged 60 and over accounted for 13.26%, up from about 10%.
Continuation of these trends will undermine China’s working-age population and affect productivity. The declining working-age group will test their ability to pay and care for the elderly.
In 2016, China lifted its one-child policy in hopes of increasing the number of babies. It also aims to increase the population to 1.42 billion in 2020 from 1.34 billion in 2010.
But the birth rate continues to decline.
This is partly due to urban couples, despite parental pressure to have children. But they place more emphasis on their independence and career than raising a family.
Yu Tao, 31, a Beijing-based product designer for a large tech company, said he was reluctant to make sacrifices in terms of the time he would have to make if he and his wife had children.
He usually comes home from work at midnight as soon as possible.
“Right now I like my balance, how do I balance work and personal life, and I don’t think I can balance this much when I have kids,” Yu said.
Yu and his wife earn a combined income of over 700,000 yuan ($ 106,888) a year, but say they are not financially secure enough to have children, even though they earn more than ordinary households.
Annual urban per capita spending was 43,834 yuan in 2020, compared with 19,109 yuan in 2010, official data show.
“We are not ready for children, both financially or mentally,” Yu said.
The rising cost of living in large cities, which is the main source of babies, as the large population leads couples to stop raising children, especially housing costs.
Among urban households, per capita annual spending for housing rose to 6,958 yuan in 2020, compared with 1,332 yuan in 2010, according to official data, more than five times the increase.
“If the government allows people to have children without policy support, it is unlikely to have a big impact,” said Liu Kaiming, a social and labor expert.
“In general, cases where people are reluctant to have children or have fewer children are irreversible.”
State media have made more dire forecasts, saying the population might begin to decline in the next few years, a more tragic forecast by the United Nations, which predicts the highest population. In 2030, then down
In 2016, China set a 2020 target for fertility rates of about 1.8 children per woman, up from 1.5-1.6 in 2015.
If rates drop below 1.5, many demographers say China is unlikely to break free from the so-called fertility traps.
Recent comments by the Minister of Civil Affairs say the fertility rate has surpassed the “warning line” and that the population has entered a critical phase of the change, circulating on social media.
($ 1 = 6.5489 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao, newsroom, Lusha Zhang and Beijing, editing by Robert Birsel.