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China's baby crisis deepens as pandemic pushes births down 15%

Financial anxiety from COVID accelerates downward trend

Women walk with children in Wuhan: The high cost of raising children in Chinese cities discouraged many households from doing so even before the coronavirus outbreak.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Registered births in China fell sharply last year as the coronavirus pandemic sapped household incomes and added fuel to economic worries, accelerating the worrisome decline in China's birthrate.

Births recorded in the household registration system slid 15% to 10.04 million in 2020, data released Monday by the Ministry of Public Security shows. While a more accurate number of births last year is not due out until spring, the total likely will drop below the 2019 figure of 14.65 million -- itself the lowest tally since 1961.

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