China’s Actual Population Might Be 10% Less

Demographer Yi Fuxian says China has been overstating its population for about three decades and its current population is 1.28 billion instead of 1.41 billion. Japan and Mexico each have a population of about 126-128 million in 2021. China is probably overstating its actual population by about 130 million people. Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of Big Country with an Empty Nest.

If this is correct then China’s population is 3.8 times more than the USA (334 million) instead of 4.22 times the USA population.

Past censuses indicate that China’s fertility rate began to fall below replacement level (generally around 2.1 children per woman) in 1991 – 11 years after the one-child policy was implemented nationwide. In 2000 and 2010, China’s fertility rate amounted to only 1.22 and 1.18 respectively, but the figures were adjusted to 1.8 and 1.63.

The revisions were made on the basis of primary-school enrollment data. But such data are far from reliable. Local authorities often report more students than they have – 20-50% more, in many cases – in order to secure more education subsidies.

From 2004 to 2009, China claimed 104 million first-graders. This was consistent with the 105 million births China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced in 1998-2003. There were only 84 million people aged 7-12 registered in the (mandatory) hukou system in 2010, and only 86 million ninth-graders registered in 2012-17.

China was overstating annual births by 3.5 million people each year or more from 1998 onwards.

China’s actual population in 2000 may have been closer to 1.227 billion than to the 1.266 billion that was officially reported.

The overstated births and fertility rates for the past 30 years would be masking a sharper decline in population. China’s population would not be 1.2 billion in 2050 but might be 1 billion in 2050.

The 2020 census is similarly misleading. The National Bureau of Statistics claims that 227 million babies were born in the 2006-19 period, and the census report shows that there were 241 million Chinese aged 1-14 in 2020.

India’s population will also be peaking earlier than past projections. India’s birthrate has dropped below replacement level. India will add about 60-100 million people and then reach a peak lower than 1.5 billion.

China population misstatement could be large enough that Asia and global population estimates would have significant overestimation as well.

SOURCES- Yi Fuxian
Written by Brian Wang,

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