China’s effort to boost its flagging population growth by allowing families to have three children isn’t likely to do much to reverse current trends, says Fitch Ratings.
The rating agency reported that China’s latest national census, which was published in early May, showed that average annual population growth slowed to 0.53% in the 2010 to 2020 period.
The growth rate in 2020 was at its lowest level since 1960, Fitch said.
“Those aged 0 to 14 years made up just 18% of the population, below the world average and indicating a shrinking workforce in the next decade,” it said.
The census results led to a decision to allow families to start having as many as three children.
Yet, Fitch doesn’t expect this to have much impact on the birth rate, “as young couples […] continue to face high costs from soaring home prices and education expenses, and many also work long hours.”
Indeed, it noted that the move to allow families to have two children didn’t do much to reverse declining population growth either.
China first implemented a one-child policy in 1971, and phased in a two-child limit from 2011 to 2015.
Fitch reported that the two-child policy “only slightly moderated the drop” in growth rate in the 2012 to 2016 period.
“The rate fell sharply in 2017–2020 as the two-child policy ran out of steam,” it said.