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The challenge of keeping China from shrinking

Policies and attitudes to raise birthrate leave nation in low-fertility trap

China's once-a-decade census showed an ultralow fertility rate, a shrinking labor force and a rapidly aging population, alerting policymakers of the urgent need for significant changes to reverse -- or at least ease -- a dramatic plunge in population that could sap economic growth.

The numbers herald drastic demographic changes for China in coming decades. At present, the world's most populated country still adds 12 million newborns every year. However, in the long run, it may be difficult to reverse the trends of an increasingly aging population and a shrinking workforce.

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