Nov 02, 2018 06:30 PM

Chart of the Day: China’s Slipping Birth Rate

China is expected to welcome fewer newborn babies this year, the president of the China Population Association said in an interview Wednesday.


The falling number of women of childbearing age is a key reason for the declining birth rate, said Zhai Zhenwu,who is also a professor in population studies at Beijing’s prestigious Renmin University. He said the number of childbearing-age women has been falling by around 5 million to 6 million annually in recent years.

China’s low fertility rate has persisted despite Beijing’s efforts to encourage people to have more babies. In 2017, the fertility rate was 1.243 births per woman, falling from 1.295 births per woman in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Data from the World Bank show that since the early 1990s, Chinese couples have had fewer babies than their counterparts in India and the U.S.


China had enforced a restrictive family-planning policy (link in Chinese) for nearly four decades. From 1980 to 2015, married couples were allowed to have only one child, with some exemptions. The limit was abolished in 2016, when Beijing expanded the quota to two children in response to the country’s rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce.

By 2050, about a third of the country’s population will be over 60, up from the current 17%, according to China’s National Working Committee on Aging.

Contact reporter Charlotte Yang (

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