Historically, China’s population has doubled since the 1950s. In 1980, China became the first country in the world with a population of 1 billion. In order to control the rapidly growing population, China began implementing the well-known one-child policy in 1979.
Although China finally realized the negative impact of this policy, it seemed to be too late, and the actions involved seemed too small. China implements a two-child policy since 2016, but it has not reversed its current population growth slowdown.
Compared with 1955, when every woman of childbearing age gave birth to more than 6 children, China’s fertility rate has been showing a downward trend, and will drop to 1.69 by 2020. Today, the median age in China has risen from 22 years old in 1955 to 38 years old. Longer life expectancy and fewer births create a demographic trend that has many social and economic impacts.
Overall, China’s young population is becoming relatively sparse, which means that its domestic labor market is beginning to shrink. In addition, a higher proportion of senior citizens will require (consume more) public resources, leading to a heavier social and financial burden.
However, despite these trends, China’s current population is still huge, accounting for about 20% of the global population. At present, 71% of China’s population is between 15 and 65 years old, which means that the labor supply is still abundant. The total population of 65 countries from different regions of the world is still less than the population of China. The top 10 are the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The following are the specific population figures for the above four regions: Australia and New Zealand 30.3 million, Europe (excluding Russia) 601.7 million, South America 430.8 million, and the United States and Canada 368.7 million. The total population is 1.432 billion people, compared to China’s total population of 1.439 billion. On the whole, the size of China’s population is almost unparalleled. India is an exception, with a population of 1.38 billion. As a continent, Africa’s total population is also close to China, reaching 1.34 billion people.
Judging by the sheer size of China’s population, whether its growth slows down does not seem so critical. Although India’s population is expected to catch up with China in 2026, China will remain one of the world’s largest economic powers anyway.
However, it is predicted that China’s population will fall below 1 billion in 2100, by which time the country’s population ranking will drop to third in the world. At the same time, over time, China’s economic dominance may be challenged by these demographic drivers.