China’s population declined in 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.
The drop was the first since the early 1960s, according to Yi Fuxian, a critic of China’s one-child policy and author of the book “Big Country With an Empty Nest.”
Mainland China’s population, excluding foreigners, fell by 850,000 people in 2022 to 1.41 billion, the statistics bureau said. The country reported 9.56 million births and 10.41 million deaths for 2022.
The share of the population ages 16 to 59 ticked lower to 62%, down from 62.5% a year earlier.
“The contraction of the total population reflects the impact of the pandemic and the associated economic downturn on fertility demand,” Yue Su, principal economist, Economist Intelligence Unit, said in a note. She said China could see a short-term return to population growth after the impact of the pandemic subsides.
“Despite the negative impact of shrinking population size on China’s long-term growth potential, we recommend companies look at the opportunities embedded in population structure,” she said. “Smaller family sizes will drive the transformation and upgrading of consumption. The ‘silver economy’ associated with ageing trends will be another growth point.”
China said 65.22% of its population lived in urban areas last year, up from 64.72% the prior year. About 83% of the U.S. population lived in urban areas as of 2021, according to the World Bank.
In 2021, China’s population grew by the slowest increase on record. The mainland China population, excluding foreigners, rose by 480,000 to 1.41 billion people at the end of 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
New births on the mainland fell by 13% in 2021 to 10.62 million babies, the data showed. In 2020, new births fell by 22%, according to the data.
Separately over the weekend, Chinese health authorities disclosed nearly 60,000 Covid-related deaths in Chinese hospitals between Dec. 8, 2022, and Jan. 12, 2023. The majority were senior citizens, and the average age of death was 80.3 years, authorities said.