China's Over 60s Outnumber Its Kids for the First Time; an Expert Appeals for More Births
Wang Lin
/SOURCE : Yicai
China's Over 60s Outnumber Its Kids for the First Time; an Expert Appeals for More Births

(Yicai Global) May 24 -- The proportion of children as against the total population in China was 16.6 percent last year, a figure lower than the number of those aged above 60 by 0.1 percentage point, official statistics show.

This disparity was the first of its kind ever recorded.

Encouraging more babies should become a new and basic national policy to reserve sufficient human capital for the future and cope with the increasingly severe aging issue, said Yao Meixiong, an expert with the Fujian province statistics bureau.

A low birth rate refers to a situation where the proportion of people aged from 0 to 14 years in a society is less than 20 percent of the total population, per demographic statistics criteria. When such a rate is between 15 to 18 percent, the situation is called a 'severely low birth rate.' When it is below 15 percent, this is an 'ultra-low birth rate.'

One of the targets of the universal two-child policy implemented since the beginning of last year is to increase the newborn population -- and thus future human capital -- but the increase in the number of infants is insufficient, Yao argued.

The newborn population last year was around 18 million, according to China's national statistics bureau. Though this was the highest spike in the newborn population since 2000, but only 1.3 million more people existed than in 2015 -- much lower than expectations.

Newborn population data some provinces and cities issued for 2017 shows the incremental newborn population will come in lower than earlier predicted. Statistics for one city indicate the number of in-hospital deliveries in October through December last year rose by 17.4 percent yearly, and the data for January through April registered a 5.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

The newborn population increase the two-child policy has induced may be only temporary, and the birth increase will rapidly dissipate, Yao believes. Couples of child-bearing age are reluctant to have a second child mainly due to the high cost, lack of energy and worries over job security, research by the Women's Federation and multiple research institutions shows.

Yao regards children as the future of the country and the hope of the nation, future innovative entrepreneurs and taxpayers, and pension providers. The steep decline in the ranks of women of prime reproductive age and low levels of child-bearing desire render necessary a population policy that encourages women to give birth, while easing their burden of raising children.

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Keywords: Births