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How China's Shrinking Population Could Have a Ripple Effect on the Global Economy

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

China remains home to 1.4 billion people. But that number is getting smaller.

The country's National Bureau of Statistics reported China's population slipped to 1.412 billion last year from 1.413 billion in 2021. The last time China saw negative population growth was in the 1960s.

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Many experts believe that China's one-child policy, introduced in the 1980s, is one of the main reasons for the population decline.

"China's one-child policy was a mistake," said Yi Fuxian, an expert on Chinese population trends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "China is worried because its economic outlook is bleak."

China revised its one-child policy to two in 2016 and three in 2021. But despite the change, younger adults don't seem to be in much of a mood to follow the policy and have more babies. The country has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, falling to an all-time low of 1.28 in 2020.

"This one-child policy has the Chinese people accustomed to one child per family," said Xiaolin Shi, an assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University. "So you can imagine how hard it is to change people's cultural attitude that has been such deeply rooted in their mind."

Some experts believe that slowing population growth is not only a concern for China but also a global concern, as the country has long been known as the world's factory. 

"The global consumer is going to feel what's happening," said Mei Fong, author of 'One Child.' "What's happening in the bedrooms in China is actually affecting what's happening in the rest of the world."

Watch the video above to find out what caused China's population decline and how the shrinking population could alter the global economy.

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