HONG KONG (Reuters) – China will begin polling 1.4 million people on Wednesday in a survey on population changes, as authorities struggle to incentivise people to have more children amid a declining birth rate and the first population drop in more than six decades.
The poll, which was announced on Oct. 10 in an unexpected move, will focus on urban and rural areas throughout the country. The survey will be based on a sample of 500,000 households and last for around two weeks until Nov. 15, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said.
It will help provide a basis to monitor China’s population developmental changes and for the government and Communist Party to formulate national economic, social development and population related policies, it said.
China last conducted its once-in-a-decade census in November 2020 which showed it grew at the slowest pace since the first modern population survey in the 1950s.
Population development has often been linked to the strength and “rejuvenation” of the country in state media amid the declining birth rate and widespread concerns by citizens on the difficulties of raising children.
High childcare costs and having to stop their careers have put many women off having more children or any at all. Gender discrimination and traditional stereotypes of women caring for the children are still widespread throughout the country.
Authorities have in recent months increased rhetoric on sharing the duty of child rearing but paternity leave is still limited in most provinces.
The country reported a drop of roughly 850,000 people for a population of 1.41175 billion in 2022, marking the first decline since 1961, the last year of China’s Great Famine.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Michael Perry)