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New Stat Hints at a 'Demographic Time Bomb'

Low birth rate, low death rate in China has researchers, economists there worried
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2020 9:42 AM CST

(Newser) – There's a "looming crisis" brewing in China, one the New York Times says could eventually have a "seismic effect." Per the country's National Bureau of Statistics, about 14.6 million babies were born there last year, an almost 4% drop from 2018. It's the lowest official number since 1961, when a famine struck the nation. And it's the third year in a row that such numbers have fallen. The BBC describes these stats, combined with an also-low death rate, as a "demographic time bomb," as the number of younger people available to take care of the older generations—a cultural expectation in China—dwindles. More on this slowdown and what it could mean in the years to come:

  • What's driving the decline: A variety of trends, including more educated women who are working and don't need to marry for financial security, as well as the high cost of living, which jumps if a couple decide to add kids to the mix, per the Times. As a University of California-Irvine sociology professor succinctly puts it, "It's a society where nobody wants to get married and people can't afford to have children."

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