China's Population Just Reached 1.41 Billion
China is still the world’s most populous country, according to the latest census of its National Bureau of Statistics, which releases the census once every 10 years. It eclipses India’s 1.36 billion population, the world’s second-largest population.
In 2010, China had a population of 1.33 billion, which means the country added nearly 80 million new citizens in a span of 10 years. That translates to a growth of 5.4 percent for the census period.
But despite China’s large population, economists warned the country needs to avert a demographics crisis.
China's annual population growth actually slowed through the decade. The National Population Census conducted in 2020 showed the country's population reached 1,411,778,724 up from 1,339,724,852 ten years earlier, but the average annual population growth rate of 0.53% was slower than the 0.57% measured in the 2010 census. It reflects the government's failure to re-engineer demographics it had damaged decades earlier that resulted in China's falling birthrate.
Regretting the One-Child Policy
Today, China is on the threshold of a population crisis aggravated by having one of the world’s fastest aging population, a heavily lopsided sex ratio, and a dwindling labor force.
In 2019, China’s sex ratio was at approximately 104.5 males to 100 females. This could be traced to the cultural preference for sons among the Chinese. Meanwhile, the country also recorded a sharp drop of 15 percent in registered live births in 2020.
One of the most controversial policies initiated by China in the 1970s was the One-Child Policy, which sought to arrest the country’s population growth by limiting the number of children parents can have to one per family.
Those who were found violating the policy endured punishments that ranged from economic sanctions, sterilizations, and forced abortions.
Naturally, there were those who hid from the government and decided not to declare pregnancies and child births for fear of repercussions. It resulted in the rise of undocumented citizens who had no access to social services and education. As these undocumented Chinese reached adulthood, they found it difficult to get employment, becoming dependents on those who are documented. This has an unknown impact on the Chinese economy.
According to Britannica, the number of undocumented Chinese because of the One-Child Policy ranged from the hundreds of thousands to several million.
In 2015, China announced the One-Child Policy would end in 2016. In 2020, that policy seems to have been completely reversed. China’s civil affairs minister released a statement in December 2020 encouraging families to have more children.
After nearly 50 years since the One-Child Policy was introduced, it seems China has learned a valuable lesson: It’s not about how large your population is, but who makes up that population that is more important.