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China demographic crisis looms as population growth slips to slowest ever

China’s population grew at its slowest in the last decade since the 1950s as births declined, sowing doubt over Beijing’s ability to power its economy as it succumbs to the same ageing trends afflicting developed nations like Japan.

With growth having ebbed ever since a one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s, the 2020 results of the country’s once-a-decade census on Tuesday showed the population of mainland China increased 5.38% to 1.41 billion.

That was the least since modern census-taking began in 1953. Data showed a fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman for 2020 alone, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy.

Analysts said that with substantial ageing of the population already in view, the census numbers will also give ammunition to policymakers arguing in favour of raising the country’s retirement age sooner than later.

Lungilwe Zingi.

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