Wuhu City, the second-largest city in Anhui Province, has reported the city’s serious birth population situation and that it may fall into the “low fertility trap.” 

“Low fertility trap” is a hypothesis that when the total fertility rate (TFR) drops below the warning line 1.5, it will become very difficult to return to above this level. Demography believes that to achieve a normal level of population replacement and maintain simple population reproduction, the total fertility rate must reach at least 2.1. In 2020, TFR was only 1.11 in Wuhu and 1.3 in the whole of China.

In September 2021, the Anhui Provincial Government website published a statement on the “Regulations on Population and Family Planning in Anhui Province (Draft for Comments)”, which mentioned the number of births in Anhui Province has decreased for four consecutive years. The population growth situation is extremely severe. From 2017 to 2021, the birth population in Anhui Province was 984,000, 865,000, 766,000, 645,000, and 530,000 with annual growth rate of -12.1%, -11.4%, -15.8% and -17.8% drawing a cliff-like downward trend.

Reuters reported, that with growth having ebbed ever since a one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s, the 2020 results of the country’s once-a-decade census showed the population of mainland China increased 5.38% to 1.41 billion. That was the lowest since modern census-taking began in 1953.

According to official statistics released last May, the natural population growth rate of at least 10 provinces in China is negative, among which the growth rate of Heilongjiang is –5.11‰.

The government tried to boost birth rates by increasing the number of children couples were allowed to have from two to three in 2021. But their efforts have little effect. The main reason is economic pressure with the high cost of raising a baby and unaffordable housing prices. The long unstable lockdown situation, making it harder for people to access medical care and food, also deterred couples from having children.

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