The National Bureau of Statistics in China is about to release the results of a census that collected data about the country's population numbers.
These figures were meant to be released earlier this month, but will not be published until government departments have agreed to a consensus on how to handle the data and its implications, as was first reported by the Financial Times (FT).
The FT also stated that there is a high probability that China will report a drop in its population numbers, a phenomenon that hasn't happened in the last 50 years.
A declining population has significant implications for a country, especially for its economy. As a Stanford University study explained, a declining population can also lead to the stagnation of knowledge and living standards.
Declining populations also come with unforgiving economic side effects, as another FT article reported in 2020.
What causes population declines?
There is a general preference nowadays to live in urban areas, so many young people or couples move from rural homes into cities, causing a strain on rural communities as their businesses, schools, hospitals, and more can't find enough workers to take over when the older generations retire.
Fewer young people are having children, and when they do, they are having fewer children. This is partly due to women and men having higher education, more desire to work and have careers, and as mentioned, moving to cities where there is physically less space to have a big family.
This is a phenomenon that is happening in various countries around the world, such as in Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Italy, as the World Economic Forum reported. It appears that China might be joining this list soon.
China attempted to reverse this declining population number by removing its one-child policy in 2016 and allowing couples to instead have two children. This program was initiated by the government in the late 1970s and early 1980s in order to limit families to having just one child. The nation was trying to slow down its population growth rate, which at the time was considered too high.
However, it looks like the Asian nation might have removed its policy a little too late in the game if the upcoming figures do indeed come out in a downward trend. If so, the country could face serious implications, affecting many things from consumption to the care of the elderly.