In China, the trend of a population decline is confirmed after the publication, Wednesday January 17, of official figures for the year 2023.

“At the end of 2023, the national population was 1.40967 billion people” or “a decrease of 2.08 million compared to that at the end of 2022,” announced the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The figure only includes people of Chinese nationality residing in mainland China. It does not include the inhabitants of the semi-autonomous Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macao, nor those of Taiwan (an island of 23 million inhabitants claimed by Beijing).

Last year’s decline was more than double that of 2022, when the country lost 850,000 people and its population declined for the first time since the 1960s. During 2023, China has also lost its title of “most populous country in the world” to India, according to the UN.

Attempts to stem the decline

The number of deaths more than doubled in 2023, and the number of births fell for the seventh year in a row. About 9 million babies were born in 2023, half the 2016 total.

China, which once sought to control population growth through its one-child policy, now faces the opposite problem. The population is steadily aging, which could slow economic growth and challenge the country’s ability to support a larger older population with fewer workers.

The demographic decline can be explained by several reasons, including the high cost of education, the lack of confidence in the economic future and the growing distrust of the institution of marriage – a necessary step in China before having children. .

The Chinese government is trying to limit the decline through family allowances, which remain modest, abundant communication in favor of the birth rate or even by allowing all couples to have three children.