Updated Jan 17, 2023 - World

China's population falls for first time in over 60 years

A woman holds a baby at Shijiazhuang Railway Station on the first day of 2023 China's Spring Festival travel rush on January 7, 2023 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province of China.

A woman holding a baby at Shijiazhuang Railway Station in Shijiazhuang, in the Hebei Province of China, on Jan. 7. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

China reported Tuesday its first population decline since 1961, as the world's most populous country faces a demographic crisis.

By the numbers: There were 1.41175 billion people living in China at the end of 2022 — a drop of about 850,000 compared to the previous year's end, according to data from Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics Tuesday.

  • A total of 9.56 million people were born in the country in 2022 and 10.41 million people died, per the NBS.

Of note: The United Nations projects that India will overtake China as the world's most populous nation at some point this year.

The big picture: The data comes as Beijing grapples with a surge in coronavirus deaths after shifting from its zero-COVID policy that saw restrictions including lockdowns weaken its economy and disrupt global supply chains.

  • Data from the NBS Tuesday showed China's economy grew 3% last year — well short of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's 5.5% target at the start of 2022.

Background: Beijing has in recent years moved to respond to its slowing population rate by relaxing family planning restrictions related to its strict one-child policy that came into effect in 1980 and was abolished in late 2015.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: This marks a clear inflection point that will slowly but dramatically change Chinese society and politics over the next few decades.

Go deeper: What China looks like after a decade of Xi Jinping's rule

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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