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China's birth rate plummets to lowest figure in decades
China's birth rate plummets to lowest figure in decades

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China's birth rate plummeted to a record low last year, highlighting a looming demographic crisis for Beijing caused by a rapidly ageing workforce, a slowing economy and the weakest population growth in decades.

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China relaxed its "one-child policy" - one of the world's strictest family planning regulations - in 2016, allowing couples to have two children. Earlier this year that was extended to three children.

But the changes have failed to result in the hoped-for baby boom, as the cost of living rises and women increasingly make their own family planning choices.

Last year, China recorded 8.52 births per 1,000 people according to the 2021 Statistical Yearbook released in the past week - the lowest figure since the yearbook data began in 1978.

It is a marked drop from the previous year's 10.41, and the lowest figure since Communist China was founded in 1949, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

In addition, the yearbook showed the number of marriages registered in 2020 reached a 17-year low, with only 8.14 million couples tying the knot last year.

During the initial COVID-19 outbreak, parts of central China were placed under strict lockdown for months and across the country many government offices were temporarily closed.

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