yi4_Ren YongSOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_china population Ren Yong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Leaked Data Show China’s Population Is Shrinking Fast

Because China has always massaged its demographic figures and cracked down on anyone who challenges the official line, there are endless debates about the true size and growth trajectory of the country's population. But a recent, large-scale data breach offers some sorely needed clarity.

MADISON, WISCONSIN – Even though everyone knows that China’s official demographic figures are systematically overestimated, the authorities have consistently cracked down on anyone who questions the data. For example, my book Big Country with an Empty Nest was quickly banned when it appeared in 2007, because it voiced concerns about China’s one-child policy and predicted that the Chinese population would begin to shrink in 2017, not in 2033-34, as Chinese officials and the United Nations’ 2006 World Population Prospects (WPP) had projected.