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Bitter demography: Beijing is losing population for the first time

Beijing, one of the world's largest cities, saw its population decline last year for the first time in 19 years as the country grapples with a decades-long population crisis.

The city's permanent resident population declined from 21.88 million in 2021 to 21.84 million in 2022 , a decline of 84,000. The number of immigrants in Beijing – many of whom leave their rural homes to find work in the city – also decreased from 2021 to 2022.

The last time Beijing saw more deaths than births was in 2003, when the fatal severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic emerged in southern China and eventually infected more than 8,000 people worldwide.

Last year's decline is relatively small, with the population's natural growth rate falling to -0.05 per thousand residents, according to official data, but it represents a wider problem across the country: even the population nationwide declined last year for the first time since the great famine of 1961.

The factors behind the decline are many: the far-reaching consequences of China's one-child policy introduced in the 1980s (but since abandoned), the changing attitude towards marriage and family among young Chinese, the entrenched gender inequality and the challenges of raising children in expensive Chinese cities. Furthermore, women, who are very independent, no longer want to deal exclusively with childcare.

The result has been years of stubbornly declining birth rates and rising death rates as the country's aging population grows. The shrinking workforce has also sparked concerns about economic decline, which would be a potential problem for the rest of the world given China's key role as the world's second largest economy.

Beijing is not the only Chinese hub experiencing this decline. The northeastern province of Liaoning, which is part of China's so-called "rust belt," saw more than twice as many deaths as births last year, with its population dropping by 324,000, according to provincial authorities.

Last year, authorities launched a plan to strengthen maternity leave and offer tax credits and other benefits to families; some cities have offered longer paternity leave, expanded childcare services, and even offered cash grants to families with a third child. Furthermore, the third child often enjoys completely free services, such as kindergarten and school, but for now these incentives have not been sufficient to change the demographic trend.

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The article Bitter demography: Beijing loses population for the first time comes from Scenari Economics .

This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL https://scenarieconomici.it/demografia-amara-pechino-per-la-prima-volta-perde-popolazione/ on Fri, 24 Mar 2023 20:57:40 +0000.