China’s statistical office has reported the first actual decline in population since more than 60 years, as reported by Reuters on 17 January 2023. It is expected that this is only the beginning of a decrease that will see a massive decline in workforce numbers and a growing number of pensioners, among other consequences (Grid News, 17 January 2023).
World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: “The reported decline is still small – just 850,000 people. However, the COVID death toll (at present unclear) may accelerate the reduction in numbers next year. What is clear, is that this decline may have far-reaching consequences. One such consequence – more a matter of national pride – is that already in 2023 the title of the ‘world’s most populous country’ will probably go to India, much earlier than most observers had thought.”
Thomas Muller continues: “While some projections forecast that China’s population may be halved by 2100, others are more pessimistic (Daily Mail, 24 January 2023). However, it is important to note that demography is not destiny, as one observer wrote (Bert Hofman Blog, 19 January 2023). The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can counter these trends, e.g. by raising the pension age, by supporting families and especially mothers more, by permitting more social work by religious entities and by increasing and facilitating migration. It will be interesting to see if the CCP is willing to adapt accordingly.”