Re: China’s Population Has Shrunk. India Might Now Be the World’s Most Populous Country

Written by Olivia Nater | Published: January 17, 2023

We submitted the following letter to the editor at TIME magazine on January 17, 2023, and are sharing it below since it wasn’t published.

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Dear Editor,

In “China’s Population Has Shrunk. India Might Now Be the World’s Most Populous Country,” Armani Syed should have mentioned the significant risk of reproductive coercion.

Ms. Syed acknowledges that financial incentives for childbearing are not very successful but doesn’t state why. The reason is that once women gain the power to make their own fertility decisions and pursue careers, small families become the norm. Even the nations with the most generous pronatalist policies to support parents have been unable to reverse declining fertility rates, which means authoritarian regimes like China’s may try resorting to coercive measures.

Some Chinese politicians have hinted at a possible attack on women’s rights. This is already happening in Iran, with the government further restricting access to contraception and safe abortion out of fear of slowing population growth.

Population aging and decline should be celebrated as a sign of women’s emancipation. It also happens to be key to creating a more sustainable future on our overburdened planet. We must not allow misplaced concern to fuel reproductive rights violations.


Olivia Nater
Communications Manager
Population Connection