Beijing: China, the most populous country in the world, has said its population will peak to 1.45 billion by 2030 and drop to 1.1 billion towards the end of this century, even as it shrugged off concerns over a declining labour force.
China’s population is expected to peak to 1.45 billion in 2030, then drop to 1.4 billion by 2050 and 1.1 billion by the end of this century, Wang Peian, deputy head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said in Beijing on Saturday.
Dismissing concerns over demographic crisis leading to increasing old age population, he said, “China doesn’t lack in population, not in a few decades, not in 100 years.”
About the concerns over a declining labour force, Wang was quoted by the state-run Global Times as saying that China’s working age population between 15 and 64 years is still a little over one billion and accounts for 73% of the total population.
The working age population will gradually drop to 985 million in 2020 and to around 800 million by 2050, he said.
“Although the total working age population in developed countries in the US and Europe is around 730 million, which is less than our one billion, they have a much higher productivity rate,” Wang said, noting that the drop in workers will be compensated by advances in technology.
Last year, China had relaxed its decades-old rigid ‘one child policy’ amid concerns over rapidly ageing population which has already touched about 220 million and was expected to climb sharply in the coming year.
Wang noted that following the second-child policy, a total of 18.46 million births were recorded across China in 2016. The number is the largest since 2000 and is two million more than past averages.
Official surveys pointed out reluctance on the part of many women to have a second child over fears that it will affect their career prospects and costs involved in bringing up one more child.
Last month, Wang said China plans to work out a “baby bonus” scheme to provide financial incentives to encourage couples to have a second child.
To address concerns of the people, the government was considering introducing supporting measures including “birth rewards and subsidies” to encourage people to have another child.
In his media interaction on the sidelines of the Parliament here yesterday, Wang said China’s second-child policy applies to some 90 million people but only 28% are likely to have a second child.
Wang said working women, a lack of child care centres across the country and the rising cost of raising a child are factors affecting the policy.
“A majority of Chinese families rely on grandparents to raise children less than 3 years old,” Wang said. China expects the average yearly number of births to vary between 17 million and 19 million from now to 2020, he said. PTI