One Finite Planet

China Population Surprise: Peak Population in 2022.

First Published:

I read a story on population in China that I found surprising in three ways.

  • The Story and Surprises.
    1. Peak China.
      • The story reports China has already reached peak population.
    2. Too Few Not Too Many:
      • The author believes that despite over 700 million people in China in around 1970 being considered too many people, 1.4 billion people today is not enough.
    3. The Solution Is More People To Care For:
      • It is suggested there will be too many elderly people needing care, relative to the population of working adults, and the solution during the next 20 years would be more children, who will during those 20 years be children and thus will increase the population requiring care care.

Peak China: The Population of China Has Already Peaked.

I had not expected the population of China to peak for another 10 years, with another 30 million expected to be added to the current tally of 1.433 billion by 2030. There is only 2% difference between the numbers I had seen, and this projection, and with article quoting figures of an 18% year on year drop from 2019 to 2020, then the early arrival of the peak sounds very real. Looking at the population pyramid for China, the peak age group.

Too Few Not Too Many: Does China Really Need More People?

How could 700 million in the 1970s be too many people, yet 1.4 billion in 2021 be insufficient?

The title of the article is: “China’s birthrate just hit another record low. But the worst is yet to come“. The underlying assumption is that a low birth-rate is highly undesirable.

Assumedly the converse, a high birth-rate is desirable.

I am unsure exactly how countries such as Niger, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo benefit from their exceptionally high birth-rates, but it does not seem to be through GDP per capita.

In fact the average GDP for the 10 countries with the lowest birth-rates, at $965 per annum, does not compare well with the 40x higher average for the 10 countries with the lowest birth-rates, at $38,580 per annum.

Nor does a large population correlate well with per capita wealth. Of the worlds most populous countries, the USA is a standout being the 3rd most populous, and just missing the top 10 richest per capita at 11th, but next from the top 10 most populous is Russia, at 79th in that list.

While a low birth-rate is not a perfect correlation with a high living standard, there is clearly a strong link. The birth-rate projected for China brings China inline with many richer nations.

So why the predictions of doom and gloom as a result of what is in some ways just inline with Chinese people becoming more like those in richer nations?

While neither high birth rates, not large populations, are of benefit to the average individual, the largest companies, and those with large shareholdings in large companies, do have a vested interest in large populations, as they earn their wealth as an amount per customer in their marketplace. Big population does not benefit the average citizen, but it does benefit billionaires, and even the average citizen in China is still significantly below the wealth of the average US citizen, China does have more billionaires.

So why is the writer of the article echoing sentiment that sounds like population growth propaganda of billionaires and those wishing maximum people so they can effectively farm humans?

I found it surprising an author who do not expect is acting as an advocate or either Chinese rules or billionaires, is suggesting the population of China should continue to grow.

The Solution Is More People To Care For.

The author quotes an author who suggests:

China’s fertility rate stood at just 1.3 last year — among the lowest in the world and even lower than 1.34 in Japan. But China’s GDP per capita is only one fourth of Japan’s. The few other countries with a lower fertility rate include Singapore (1.1) and South Korea (0.84).”Of course, the bad news to China is this is not the end, and that China will continue to gravitate toward the lowest of the spectrum — so it’ll be more like Singapore and South Korea very soon,” Liang said.”If you look at big cities in China, like Shanghai and Beijing, their fertility rate is already the lowest in the world — at about 0.7.”The rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce could severely distress China’s economic and social stability. “It’ll hurt China financially, because you need to support a lot more old people with fewer young people,” Liang said.

Economist Liang, From CNN: China’s birthrate just hit another record low. But the worst is yet to come
17.2% above 60, 23.5% under 20.

Interestingly, it is suggested that the problem of the suggested “you need to support a lot more old people with fewer young people” can be solved by having having more children, who would also for the next 20 years, be additional people who require care. An economist it would seem, assumes the people who are of the age to care for the elderly, can do that job better if they are also parents with parental responsibilities, than if they do no also have to care for children. Or alternatively, the economics is assuming children can stop needing a childhood and to attend school.

The economist does note that countries with low birth-rates are rich, but is suggesting at the same time that a low birth-rate will stop a country being rich.

In China, even if all people immediately on retirement require care, this would be 17.2% of the population. Given the high rate of university attendance, this is less of a burden than society supporting the 23.5% who are children or full time students. Note that the reality is, in a high birth rate country such as Niger, 50% of the population is under 15, creating more people needing care and support from society than in China even if in Niger, almost all children end school 15. The “aging population problem” is predominantly just a myth that economists perpetuate to justify perpetual economic growth.


China really has reached Peak Population early.

And ahead of expectations. This suggests the entire world is headed for peak population earlier than previous projections. Those earlier projections (see graph) were for China’s population to peak in around another 10 years, and the decrease by around 1/3 by 2100 to around 1 billion. However, having reached the peak earlier, perhaps the correction will be faster.

Economist Belief In Perpetual Exponential Population Growth Is Strong.

Despite humanity having long experienced a relatively stable population prior to the recent population explosion, economists cling to the belief that economic prosperity is dependant on continued exponential population growth.

This is despite:

  • the logic of “less children means less people to provide care” being proven wrong by simple mathematics.
  • People in countries with the highest rate of population growth being substantially poorer than countries with the lowest rates of population growth.
  • Countries with large populations on average having citizens with below average income.

Of course all of these metrics are “per capita”. What life is like foe the people. A big population still makes a bigger total economy, creates more billionaires, and larger national companies. Per capita income is often of no concern to economists.

Illogical Support For Population Growth Extends Beyond Economists.

The author is not an economist, yet the wording of the entire article seems to not only assume population growth is desirable, but that lack of population growth is a disaster. This led me to exploring possible explanations for this blind belief in population growth.


  • 2021 Dec 19: Just clarifications.


Table of Contents


Population Explosion: What happened to get to 8 Billion people?

Humanity has just experienced a population explosion. Whether you believe we are overpopulated or not, the facts are that we have just had a population explosion.

Over two centuries of population peaking at 50x higher than the long term population growth, and peaking at 100x higher during the baby boom.

Yet the explosion occurred with women having less babies than ever before, even during the baby boom, and is ending all by itself.

So what caused the boom, why a population explosion when birth rates are falling? Will our population grow until we are living life like battery hens?

Read More »

Paradox Resolved: Why The Population Explosion Is Ending and birth rates falling.

Surprisingly, humanity is at ‘peak child‘ and looks to be heading to population stability and perhaps even ‘leaving peak population‘ and correcting to a lower population.

We are still have an overpopulated planet, following the population explosion, but at least the explosion is ending, due to ‘births’ per woman falling from over 6 prior to 1900, to 4.7 by around 1950, and to around 2.3 in 2021.

So, why are birth-rates falling? There are countless studies of population trends, but in the end, most explanations for the fall in birth rates just don’t add up.

Read More »

Peak Child: When, and what does it mean?

Globally, the when is now. Although locally, experiences differ by location.

Data now clearly confirms that globally, the world has returned to ‘peak child’, a precursor to a likely return to peak population, and the end of three centuries of a population explosion.

Return to peak child means we could either return to the gradual growth levels of prior to the industrial revolution, or become a mature species, and exist in balance with nature and other living things. Perhaps even stop displacing other species?

Read More »