The National Bureau of Statistics disclosed on Thursday that the newly-born population in China last year was 17.23 million, which means the national fertility rate was 1.24 percent, which is even lower than Japan's 1.46 percent. Southern Metropolitan Daily comments:
To spur population growth, China allowed all couples to have a second child in 2016. Usually, the first year after the adjustment of birth policies is expected to witness a marked rise in birth rate. But the fertility rate last year was even lower than the 1.29 percent of 2016.
Although the change to the family planning policy has mitigated the decline of the fertility rate, it has not effectively boosted it.
Different departments have given different explanations for this. NBS spokesperson Xing Zhihong said the decline in the fertility rate last year was because of the decline in the number of childbearing-age women, while the National Health and Family Planning Commission attributed it to the heavy economic burden on couples, among other social factors, such as the rising cost of bringing up children, the lack of childcare facilities and personnel and the shortage of quality education and medical care resources, as well as increasing career pressure, which it said decisively influence people's willingness to have children.
The authorities should offer subsidies and sufficient public services to ease couples practical concerns about having a second child.
It is predicted that China's population will dwindle at a rate of 300,000 to 800,000 a year in the next decade, if the government does not implement any policies to stimulate the people's desire to have children.