Panic in China sees raft of desperate measures to halt plunging birth rate

China is in crisis over the number of children being born, but instead of there being too many… now there are fears there are too few.

The communist nation scrapped its infamous ‘one child policy’ restricting every family to just one offspring in 2016, replacing it with a three-child limit.

But despite the removal of the draconian rule the population is now decreasing, with the country becoming less populated by 850,000 overall last year.

In January China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported the country’s population recorded the first decline since 1951, making India – for the first time – the world’s most populous nation.

Worried leaders have been attempting to encourage new growth with some provinces removing child limits altogether, offering 30 days paid holiday to newlyweds and state subsidies for second and third babies, the Guardian reports.

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Discounts on expensive procedures like IVF have also been touted.

As well as shrinking, the population of 1.4 billion has also been ageing with over 65s making up 14 per cent, that’s 196,000 million people.

In the next few decades that number is set to grow to more than the population of Spain, France, Italy and Germany combined.

Economically too, despite having a middle-class population more than the population of Britain, actual average wages in China are still classed by the World Bank as less than those in wealthier countries .

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And even though China is often described as the production centre of the world, the retirement age for the increasingly old population has remained stubbornly much earlier than many Western nations.

Men can retire aged 60, women at 55, or 50 if they have hard manual jobs. The lower ages of retirement, coupled with a slowing global economy since Covid, have meant the government has mooted raising pension age as it finds it difficult to support a larger proportion of the population into old age.

Zoe Zongyuan Liu, a fellow at thinktanks the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Guardian: “With the shrinking population it becomes very difficult to increase the pension base, therefore you have to increase your investment.

“The Chinese government has been developing different programmes to allow pensions to invest in different varieties of assets to increase investment returns, but it really depends on how the economy goes”.

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