Rating agency Moody’s said China’s latest policy decision to allow families up to three children could help support fertility but would not change the birth rate dramatically. China announced its decision to allow families up to three children days after the country’s census data showed that population growth had dropped to its lowest level since the 1950s.
The country’s one-child policy to limit population growth, introduced in 1980, was relaxed in 2016 to allow two children. That didn’t make much of a difference though – given the high cost of raising children, not many couples choose to have a second child.
In 2020, 1.2 million babies were born in China. That’s an 18 percent decrease from 2019, when 1.465 million people were born. The total fertility rate (TFR) of women of childbearing potential was 1.3, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The TFR is the average number of children women expect during their childbearing years in a given country.
The country’s declining birth rate and rapidly graying workforce pose a social and economic problem. This is also an important reason why the country has decided to abandon its previous rigid family planning policies and consider economic and social measures to help couples to help have more children.
At this low rate, China also joins the list of countries at risk of becoming a demographic time bomb, with rapidly aging populations and shrinking youth populations.
We take a look at countries with the lowest birth rates: