2018 is being labelled a “a historical turning point for Chinese population”. The Global Times reports that the number of babies born was 15 million last year in China - 2 million less than that of 2017. If these results are confirmed, it means China’s 2018 number of births is the lowest since 2000. This result reinforces arguments that the country is experiencing a demographic shift as its population ages, a phenomenon which could yield major socio-economic consequences for the country. Problems arise if there is a proportionally lower working-age population (usually regarded as aged 15-64 years) than that that of ‘dependents’ (children and the elderly) as the former group will be under greater pressure to support the economy and care for these dependents. China's elderly population is expected to reach 400 million by the end of 2035, up from around 240 million last year.
The phenomenon is largely attributed to China’s controversial One-Child Policy, which was enforced for over 30 years. Although the policy was amended in 2016 to permit parents to have 2 children, this switch may have come too late to rectify the past policy’s consequences. Similarly, Bloomberg found that convincing Chinese couples may be challenging due to “high living costs, long work hours and surging child-care expenses”.