In 2024, China grapples with a persistent population decline, with hopes pinned on the auspicious Year of the Dragon to reverse the trend. Experts remain skeptical amid economic challenges.
New Delhi, January 19, 2024 – As China faces a persistent decline in its birth rate for the second consecutive year, hopes are now turning to the upcoming Year of the Dragon in 2024, which begins on February 10. According to the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Dragon is considered particularly auspicious for childbirth, with locals believing that more births are recorded during this time.
China’s population decline has been exacerbated by a gloomy economic outlook, an aging society, and the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2023, the country experienced a decline in population by 850,000, marking its first decrease since a man-made famine 60 years ago. The national death rate has also surged, reaching 7.87 per 1,000 people in 2023, the highest level since the early 1970s.
Wang Feng, an expert on Chinese demographics at the University of California, highlighted the severity of the situation, stating, “The population decline is not just increasing. The decline has more than doubled from the previous year.”
Traditionally, in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, “dragon babies” born in the Year of the Dragon are believed to be imbued with luck. However, experts are skeptical about whether such superstitions can significantly impact China’s demographic challenges.
Financial Times reported a slight increase in the birth rate during the Year of the Dragon, as indicated by a graph from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Nevertheless, experts caution that economic pessimism and high competition may hinder a noticeable rebound in birth rates this year.
“Given the pessimistic economic outlook and pessimism among young people, I doubt we will see a noticeable rebound this year,” said Wang Feng. Dora Gao, a 30-year-old working in Shanghai, echoed these sentiments, expressing her lack of confidence in her financial situation to raise a child amidst fierce competition and high education costs.
As China enters the Year of the Dragon, the nation faces a critical juncture where reviving growth factors and escaping the debt-deflation spiral will be essential for its future demographic landscape.