China’s demographic situation is worsening at an alarming rate, spelling trouble for the country’s economic prospects for decades to come. While an ageing population and falling fertility rates are not unique to China, the country’s demographic changes are happening at a speed and scale unseen in any other country. It is partly a result of the ruthless implementation of the one-child policy that ran from the late 1970s to the early 2010s, a massive state-engineered project that Chinese authorities try very hard not to mention any more.
Based on the experiences of other countries, China would have faced an ageing population and falling births anyway, but the state’s involvement in “family planning” – which involved hefty fines and forced abortions – has only made the problem more severe.T he reality is that, as the provincial government of Anhui has admitted, China’s new birth rates are “falling off a cliff”. A growing number of Chinese scholars and economists are saying that 2021 will see the peak of the country’s population growth, even when citing China’s official data.