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China population crisis: Declining marriage numbers add to China’s demographic conundrum

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China population crisis: Declining marriage numbers add to China’s demographic conundrum

Highlights

  • The crisis of declining population has intensified in China, the world’s most populous country.
  • In addition to the falling birth rate in China, fewer people are getting married, which has exacerbated the crisis.
  • The number of marriage registrations in China has declined for seven consecutive years, reaching a low level.

Beijing
In China, the world’s most populous country, the problem of declining population has intensified. In addition to the falling birth rate in China, fewer people are getting married, which has exacerbated the crisis. The recently released ‘China Statistical Yearbook 2021’ data shows that the number of marriage registrations in China has declined for seven consecutive years, reaching a 17-year low last year.

According to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, a total of 58.7 lakh couples married in China in the first three quarters of 2021, slightly less than the same period last year. China’s state-run newspaper China Daily reported on Wednesday that it is feared that the number of marriage registrations in China will continue to decline in 2021. This is another reason for the falling birth rate, according to the book’s data. The birth rate in China last year was 0.852 percent, which is below one percent for the first time since 1978.

Couples were allowed three children
Seeing the demographic crisis deepening, China ended the decades-old one-child policy to allow all couples to have two children in 2016 and this year amended the policy to allow couples to have three children. The decision to allow a third child was taken recently after a decade-long census. China’s population is growing at the slowest pace among official estimates. The population here has become 1.412 billion.

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Outlining the reasons for the decline in marriage registration, demographer He Yafu cited the decline in youth numbers in China as one of the reasons. He cited the National Bureau of Statistics as saying that China’s population declined since the late 80s, 90s and 2000s. The expert told China Daily that due to high work pressure and improving women’s education levels and economic freedom, interest in marriage among young people has also decreased.

The negative impact of the decline in marriage registration on the birth rate
Another major reason, the expert said, is the imbalanced ratio of male and female population. In China, males outnumber females by 3.49 lakh according to the seventh national census. Yafu said there are 1.75 lakh more men in their 20s than women of marriageable age. Apart from this, rising housing prices and expensive residential complexes are also a major obstacle in the way of getting married and having children.

He said that marriage and child birth are closely related in China and the proportion of children born after marriage is low. Hence the decline in marriage registration is bound to have a negative impact on the birth rate. Therefore corrective measures should be intensified. He said that marriage and maternity leave should also be increased to encourage youth to get married and have children. The number of people aged 60 or above has already touched 26.4 lakh, which is 18.7 per cent of the total population. In fact, in 2036, the population of senior citizens is expected to be 29.1 percent of the total population of China, the China Daily news said.

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