The Chinese government has overestimated the population by 90 million, states Mr Yi Fuxian, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who says that the Chinese authorities have greatly overstated the country's real fertility rate since 1990.
At a symposium in Beijing, Mr Yi said that his calculations showed that China had 1.29 billion people at the end of last year, not the 1.38 billion that is the official estimate. His research suggested there were 377.6 million new births from 1991 to 2016, less than the official figure of 464.8 million.
However, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, rejected his claims. “Some people ignored the birth population data issued by the State Statistics Bureau after revision, make no analysis of the raw data of the population census and random surveys, directly gathered, and believe 2015’s total fertility rate was 1.05,” the Commission said. It said the 2016 fertility rate was 1.7.
Mr Yi called on China to abolish all population control measures rather than just allowing two children per family, a reform introduced in March last year to replace the one-child policy which was introduced in 1979.
However, experts believe that the abolition of all population controls would not resolve China's ageing situation. China has the world’s largest population aged over 60, accounting for 15.5% of the Chinese population in 2014. The United Nations estimates about 500 million people in China’s population will be over 60 by the middle of the century.