The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the country must consider either relaxing birth controls further or getting rid of them entirely.
China replaced its decades-old one-child policy two years ago, allowing all couples to have two children. But the report said that even that change was not enough to meet social needs.
China must fully relax birth controls in a timely manner.
China’s working age population – people aged 16 to 59 – shrank for the fifth year in a row last year to 907.47 million, down from 910.96 million a year earlier. That pool is expected to shrink to 700 million by 2050, a “sharp decline” from the estimated 830 million in 2030, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
The authorities projected the number of births would rise to 20 million each year by allowing all couples to have a second child from 2015.
But so far those projections have not been met – last year the total rose to a record 17.86 million births and the academy does not expect even that momentum to be maintained.
Some demographers said it was time to abandon all birth limits and offer support to people wanting to be parents.
Ren Yuan, a demographer from Shanghai’s Fudan University, said China needed to develop social support to help parents care for children up to kindergarten age.
“At the current rate, birth control policies can’t have much effect on promoting births. The focus should shift to social policies such as providing social support that can better smooth the link between birth and work,” Ren said.