As more and more young couples now delay birth schedules and are not willing to have more kids, China’s fertility rate has been on a constant decline. According to Li Jiheng, China’s minister for civil affairs, the country’s total birth rate has hit the lowest level, falling below the warning line at 1.5.
Total birth rate measures the average number of children per woman. Globally, the average per woman is now below 2.5 children. Li warned that once the birth rate falls below 1.5, the country’s population starts to contract, and there is little chance of recovering.
Taking neighboring Japan as an example, the country’s birth rate dropped below 1.5 in 1995 and since then, despite government efforts to encourage couples to have more children, the country just can’t reverse the trend. In 2019, the number of births in Japan was down by 5.8 percent to around 865,000, the lowest annual figure ever, which former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a “national crisis.”