China’s Recent Population Numbers Indicate Possible Changes on the Horizon Globally
The recent news of a population decline in china shocked the world. The country's population has not experienced a dip since the 1960s, but in 2022, it fell by 850,000 people. A historic famine caused the previous population loss, but what is the cause of the most current drop, and what does it mean for the rest of the world?
The Cause of the Recent Population Decline
The recent population shift does not have a single point of origin. Experts argue it is likely a combination of factors, from changing attitudes toward marriage, gender inequality, financial challenges and the remnants of the controversial one-child policy.
Some people argue the one-child policy is the most significant contributing factor to the current issue. Introduced in the 80s and remaining in place for over 35 years, the policy limited all Chinese couples to only one child. Women who went against the policy received fines, eviction and forced abortions.
The one-child policy contributed to an aging workforce, but it is not the only factor to consider with the recent decline. Despite changing the law in 2015, allowing couples to have two children, and again in 2021, allowing three, the people have not taken advantage.
Between a higher cost of living and a reliance on archaic gender roles, couples and women do not find the new laws appealing. While the country attempts to adapt and institute changes, like maternity leave, bias and tradition lead to discrimination.
The Effect of Declining Numbers on China
The new numbers point to continued struggles for China. The country will still need to find ways to deal with an aging population and a shrinking workforce. It must also find ways to motivate a younger generation that continues to deal with continued and growing financial burdens.
China already experienced one of its worst economic performances in 2022, only expanding by 3%. Slow growth, a rapidly aging population, and a struggling workforce all point to future economic hardships for the country. Experts predict the country may experience economic stagnation similar to Japan in the 90s.
A declining population warns of future problems for social security, health care and pensions. While this is difficult news for China, what does it mean for the rest of the world?
The Effect of the Population Decline on the Global Economy
As one of the leading economic powers, China's population struggles can have far-reaching effects on the global economy. Looking at the impact of China's domestic choices during the pandemic — how it affected trade and supply chains internationally — it is easy to understand the population shift will not go unnoticed.
Ultimately, if China cannot correct population shortages, it will contribute to slower growth across the board. Also, it will change the dynamic of economic powers. For example, India is already showing signs of being a force, and it will seize on the news out of China to shore up its position.
While the decline may affect trade and world economies, not all is bad news. Smaller populations are better for climate change predictions.
China's recent population report is shocking but not entirely unexpected. The country spent decades enforcing a controversial law designed to control its numbers. Still, the decline will affect the world. To what extent only the future will tell.