It turns out that China might not be quite as crowded as you once thought.
According to one independent Chinese researcher, China may have about 90 million fewer people than official estimates suggest. That’s more than the entire population of Germany and would mean that India has become the world’s most populous country ahead of schedule.
Yi Fuxian, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told a symposium at Peking University on Monday that China’s “real population” may be a mere 1.29 billion people, compared with the official figure of 1.37 billion. Yi claims that his research suggests that Chinese authorities have seriously overstated the amount of new births from 1991 to 2016. He estimates that there were only 377.6 million births in that time period, far less than the official figure of 464.8 million, the South China Morning Post reports.
As a demographer and scholar, Yi has spent his career criticizing Beijing’s family planning policy, believing that instead of encouraging Chinese families to have fewer babies, they should be incentivizing them to have more, in order to ward off the looming demographic crisis of a rapidly aging population. At the start of last year, China finally dropped its decades-old “one-child” policy, replacing it with a “two-child” one. However, Yi believes that the change is not enough, calling for the removal of all population controls.
According to SCMP, Yi wasn’t the only expert at the symposium with this view. Other researchers also worried that China’s problems with a rapidly shrinking workforce may be even more severe than previously feared, blaming government policy and questionable data.
“The population data since the adaption of one-child policy has been seriously false and the family planning report has been overstated by 30 per cent,” Liang Zhongtang, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said. “The birth control policy which has last nearly four decades is not in accordance with reality. It is imperative that the government should abandon the family planning system.”
India’s population reached 1.33 billion last year and is expected to surpass China’s in the next five years. Earlier this year, China’s state council estimated that the country’s population would peak at 1.45 billion in 2030. While being the world’s most populous country comes with a lot of baggage, it’s still preferable to being the world’s oldest.
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