For the first time since 1961, deaths in China outnumbered births — 9.56 million people were born in the country in 2022, while 10.41 million died.
This data was released Tuesday by China's National Bureau of Statistics. Cai Fang, vice-chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, said on Monday that it was expected that China would soon "enter an era of negative population growth."
The birth rate was 6.77 births per 1,000 people, down from 7.52 births in 2021 and the lowest birthrate on record, The Guardian reports. The death rate was 7.37 deaths per 1,000 people, up from 7.18 deaths in 2021.
There are several factors behind the world's most populous country's falling birth rate, including the one-child policy and the rising cost of living. The government has been trying to come up with ways to turn things around, including offering subsidies and tax breaks for families. In Shenzhen, it was announced last week that the city would give families with three children 37,500 yuan ($5,550) to help with living costs.
Kang Yi, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Tuesday that the population drop hasn't affected the labor sector, and there are still enough people of working age to keep the economy going. That may be the case now, but "in the long run, we are going to see a China the world has never seen," Wang Feng, a professor of sociology at the University of California Irvine, told The New York Times. "It will no longer be the young, vibrant, growing population. We will start to appreciate China, in terms of population, as an old and shrinking population."