Even if one assumes that women in China today are willing to have two children, two out of every 10 mothers would have to have three offspring each just to keep the population level by the middle of this century, according to an analysis of UN data.
China’s “missing girls” make it much harder for the country to keep its population stable, according to Carl Haub, demographer at the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau. In recent decades, China has produced 80 baby girls for every 100 baby boys.
Population growth in China is a concern for policy makers because the working-age population peaked in 2012, so the country faces having fewer workers available to support a growing army of the elderly.
That peak has come at an earlier stage than in neighbouring economies, lending weight to the opinion of some observers that “China will become old before it gets rich”.
Demographers consider that to keep populations from falling, each woman, on average, must produce 2.06 babies, or an average of one daughter each.
While males slightly outnumber females at birth everywhere, they are more likely to die in infancy.
But women in China would need to produce 2.2 children each to keep population level.
That is because the gender imbalance is among the highest in the world, with 1.17 boys for every girl, a level that demographers have warned could lead to social unrest in years to come.
Even China’s neighbours such as South Korea and Japan, which have fertility rates of 1.23 and 1.34 per woman, do not need as high a birth rate to hold the population level.
Indeed, recent data from China’s census suggest it is having fewer children than suggested by UN statistics, which show a birth rate of 1.6 children per woman over the course of her child-bearing years. But China’s own census puts the rate as of 2010 at 1.08, almost the world’s lowest.
The calculation of the number of births needed to stop population from falling is derived from the UN Population Division’s “instant-replacement calculation”, which takes account not only of the rate of births but also maternal deaths.
华盛顿美国人口资料局(Population Reference Bureau)的人口统计学家卡尔?豪布(Carl Haub)指出，“女孩缺失”使中国维持人口稳定的难度大得多。最近几十年，中国的男女出生比例为100:80。
避免人口下降所需要的出生率的计算，来源于联合国人口司(UN Population Division)的“即时替换计算”，不仅包含出生率，也包含孕产妇死亡率。
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