China Birthrate and Births Will Trend Down into 2031

Metaculus is a prediction competition site and they have a question on Chinese fertility in 2031. China had a total fertility rate (TFR) of only 1.3 in 2020, well below the replacement level.

China’s fertility rate stood at just 1.3 This was even lower than 1.34 in Japan. China’s nominal GDP per capita is only one fourth of Japan’s. Singapore (1.1), South Korea (0.84), Taiwan around 1.

Shanghai and Beijing have fertility rates at about 0.7.

China’s 2019 fertility rates by age of mothers in 5 year cohorts.

Chile fertility rate breakdown illustrates the distribution of births by age of mothers and the TFR calculation.

Here is why total fertility rate is likely to drop by 20-30%. How do is total fertility rate calculated? Total fertility rate is babies in each five-year group divided by the amount of women in 5 year groups from 15-49. Multiply by five and divide by 1000. This is a calculation and it is also instructive about what are the prime childbearing ages.

Prime fertility is 20-34 with about 65-75% of births at those ages. 20-29 has 50-60% of the births.

Any unlimited child policy and many other policy changes will have a temporary boost that fades well before 2026. Women have a kid and hopefully two or three and then they stop and raise them. China needs to make pushes now when they have more women in prime child bearing ages. China should push for 6 years for more fertility to get a mini baby boom, then even with those policies there will be a baby bust for 15 years because of the shortage of women. Pro-fertility policies will reduce the severity of the baby bust.

China has property debt problems and issues that could linger to suppress motivation for babies and family financial confidence.

China will have to go to extreme measures. Extreme measures likely only has a 5-15% boost. Free test tube babies etc… Massive support for childcare and daycare. Women and families are deciding to have or not have kids. The policies must make that an easier choice.

There is a 30% drag on total fertility rate. China has 145 million women in prime childbearing age (20-34). The ten years younger cohort (10-24) has 117 million women. The number of 20-29 will drop from 84 million today to 77 million in 2031.

China will still have 61 million women now who are 30-34 in the 40-44 category and 51 million who are 35-39 now who will be 45-49. They are the two largest 5-year cohort by about 50%. But those older women will be having practically no kids in 2030. Kids over 40 is a near miracle. So they will be a drag on the TFR.

China will have 30% fewer women in the prime child years in 2030. A truly massive and unprecedented test tube baby program could make it as easy for someone who is 40 to have a baby as someone who is 20. However, this would not impact women who already had a kid(s) or who has chosen never to have kids.

I am on Metaculus and have predicted China 2031 TFR at 0.8 to 1.4. with midpoint at 1.1. I expect the fertility drag and I expect the pan-Asian trend to fewer kids to continue.

SOURCES- Population Pyramid, Metaculus
Written by Brian Wang,

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