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Category Archives: Demographic

After Falling Births, China’s Marriage Rate Sees New Low — Again

Ye Zhanhang wrote . . . . . . . . .

Young Chinese are just not in the mood to marry.

China’s marriage rate slumped again in 2021, with the country recording the lowest number of nuptials since 1985, financial outlet Yicai reported Thursday, citing data from the National Statistics Bureau. Only 11.58 million people tied the knot for the first time last year, down by 0.71 million from 2020.

The figures, which aren’t yet available on official websites, add to growing concerns over the country’s ability to avert the population crisis plagued by low birth rates and aging. Demographers worry that China will be unable to reverse the falling birth rate, which also plunged to its lowest level since the early 1960s last year, with several provinces recording negative population growth for the first time in the country’s modern history.

“It’s also expected that the aging ratio will continue to rise due to the decline in marriages,” Dong Yuzheng, dean at the Guangdong Academy of Population Development, told Yicai.

As of 2021, people aged over 65 accounted for 14.7% of China’s total population, well above the level of 7%, which the United Nations defines as an aging society. Next year, neighboring India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, indicating the country’s demographic quandary.

In the wake of the looming crisis, Chinese authorities at all levels have introduced a raft of policies, encouraging people to marry and have children. Such provisions usually aim to reduce the burden of childbirth and parenting by offering an extension of parental leave, tax rebates, and other financial benefits.

Meanwhile, to save marriages from breaking down, authorities instituted a 30-day “cool-off” period for divorcing couples into the country’s first-ever Civil Code in 2020, which they claim is working. In recent years, some experts have also proposed lowering the minimum age for marriage — it’s currently 22 for men and 20 for women — to better sync with the change in family planning policy.

However, such incentives are often met with lukewarm responses, especially among the urban younger demographic, who prefer to delay marriage due to commitment issues or costs associated with starting a family. In 2020, the average age for those marrying for the first time was 28.7 years old, an increase from 24.9 years old in 2010, according to the latest national population census.

“At this stage, I just want to focus on my career and gain more financial freedom for myself,” a 24-year-old woman surnamed Li told Sixth Tone, adding she wouldn’t consider marriage for the next five years. “If I can’t even take care of myself, how can I take care of another person and a family?”

And the reluctance toward marriage is likely to continue this year, too. Official data showed that only 5.45 million couples tied the knot in the first three quarters of this year, down 7.5% from last year and its lowest number since 2007.

Source : Sixth Tone

Japan Births at New Low as Population Shrinks and Ages

Mari Yamaguchi wrote . . . . . . . . .

The number of babies born in Japan this year is below last year’s record low in what the the top government spokesman described as a “critical situation.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno promised comprehensive measures to encourage more marriages and births.

The total of 599,636 Japanese born in January-September was 4.9% below last year’s figure, suggesting the number of births in all of 2022 might fall below last year’s record low of 811,000 babies, he said.

Japan is the world’s third biggest economy but living costs are high and wage increases have been slow. The conservative government has lagged on making society more inclusive for children, women and minorities.

So far, the government’s efforts to encourage people to have more babies have had limited impact despite payments of subsidies for pregnancy, childbirth and child care.

“The pace is even slower than last year … I understand that it is a critical situation,” Matsuno said.

Many younger Japanese have balked at marrying or having families, discouraged by bleak job prospects, onerous commutes and corporate cultures incompatible with having both parents work.

The number of births has been falling since 1973, when it peaked at about 2.1 million. It’s projected to fall to 740,000 in 2040.

Japan’s population of more than 125 million has been declining for 14 years and is projected to fall to 86.7 million by 2060. A shrinking and aging population has huge implications for the economy and for national security as the country fortifies its military to counter China’s increasingly assertive territorial ambitions.

A government-commissioned panel submitted a report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week citing the low birth rate and falling population as factors that might erode Japan’s national strength.

Source : AP

Chart: Fertility Rate Dropped Substantially in South Korea and Asian Countries

Source : UN

Read more at AP

South Korea in demographic crisis as many stop having babies . . . . .

Infographic: India’s Population Growth from 2022-2100

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Source : Visual Capitalist

China’s Birth Rate Fell to Another Record Low in 2021, Gov’t Confirms

Yang Caini wrote . . . . . . . . .

China’s birth rate plunged to its lowest level since the early 1960s last year, with several provinces experiencing negative population growth for the first time in modern history, according to a newly released official report.

The China Statistical Yearbook 2022 states that only 10.6 million people were born in China in 2021, the lowest total since 1961. The country’s population grew by just 480,000, also the lowest figure in decades.

The data, published by China’s National Bureau of Statistics a few days ago, confirms earlier reports that China’s introduction of a nationwide three-child policy and a slew of other pro-natalist policies in 2021 failed to stem the country’s falling birth rate.

It also suggests that China’s population may soon begin shrinking — possibly as soon as this year — experts told Sixth Tone.

“There is a considerable possibility that starting this year, our country will face long-term negative population growth,” said Ren Yuan, a senior researcher at Fudan University’s Institute of Population Research. “This also marks a turning point in our population pattern, which will bring a series of challenges to the country’s development.”

The report includes the birth rates, death rates, and natural population growth rates of 31 Chinese provinces last year. For the first time, 13 provinces reported a negative natural population growth rate.

China’s three northeastern “Rust Belt” provinces — Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning — have been experiencing negative population growth for several years, but this trend is now spreading into the country’s more developed areas.

In 2021, several regions saw their populations shrink for the first time, including Hunan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Tianjin, Shanxi, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

South China’s Guangdong province, by contrast, recorded more births than any other region for the fourth year since 2018. The province is one of China’s most populous regions, and has also benefited from a large influx of young people.

The latest data adds to concerns that China will be unable to reverse its declining birth rate, which could cause the country to sink into a decadeslong “fertility trap” of slowing economic growth and spiraling social care costs.

In the past few years, China has introduced a number of policies to encourage people to have more children. It implemented a nationwide two-child policy in 2016, followed by a three-child policy last year. Authorities have also offered couples several new incentives to have children, including better parental leave, home-purchase subsidies, and a range of other financial incentives.

However, some experts argue that these policies will not be enough to change families’ plans. Many countries have seen their birth rates decline as their economies have developed, and China’s fertility rate has been falling for decades, Ren said.

“The decline in fertility did not start recently; it began in the 1970s,” he said. “The low fertility level in recent years is mainly due to socioeconomic factors, such as the higher cost of living, career competition, and the work-family conflicts that arise in modern market economies.”

Some Chinese leaders have also acknowledged this possibility. In late 2020, Li Jiheng, China’s minister of civil affairs, warned that “at present, Chinese people are relatively unwilling to have children, the fertility rate has already fallen below the warning line, and population growth has entered into a critical turning point.”

Xu Jian, a demographer, previously told Sixth Tone that China may need to brace itself for the possibility that the country’s population decline “cannot be halted.”

“The government may find encouraging families to have more children even more challenging than implementing birth limits had been all those years ago,” he said.

Source : Sixth Tone

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Chart: Emigration of Hong Kong Working-age Population

Source : Twitter

Charts: Headwind China Facing in Future Development

Source : Bloomberg and Nikkei

Infographic: The World’s Population at 8 Billion

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Source : Visual Capitalist

China’s New Marriages Fell to 36-Year Low in 2021 Due to a Lifestyle Shift

Lin Xiaozhao wrote . . . . . . . . .

Fewer people got married in China last year than in the past 36 years as people are pursuing increasingly urban lifestyles.

The number of new marriages dropped by 6 percent to 7.6 million in 2021 from a year earlier, the lowest since 1986, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The figure fell below eight million for the first time since 2003.

China’s marriage rate, which measures the number of new marriages per 1,000 residents per year, was 0.54 percent, down by 0.04 percentage point from 2020.

People got hitched later and later in life. The biggest number of new marriages was among those aged above 30, making up more than 48.2 percent of the total, increasing from 46.5 percent. Meanwhile, the second-largest group was those aged from 25 to 29, accounting for 35.3 percent of all, and rising by 0.4 percentage point. Those aged between 20 and 24 made up 16.5 percent of the total, down from 18.6 percent.

The data point to changes in lifestyle. Many young people moved to big cities and faced great pressures involving housing, transportation, and consumption, and this has an impact on love and marriage, said Dong Yuzheng, a director of the Guangdong Academy of Population Development. Still, some of the reasons are internal. Young people are reforming their opinions and attitudes about marriage, Dong added.

However, people are not divorcing as often anymore after the country started a new policy that promotes spouses to think twice about going separate ways. China registered 2.8 million divorces last year, down by almost 35 percent from 2020. The nation implemented a “cooling-off period” on Jan. 1, 2021, to allow potential divorcees to regret within 30 days and stay married.

Source : YiCai Global

Infographic: Where Will the World’s Next 1,000 Babies Be Born?

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Source : Visual Capitalist