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How did China become so overpopulated?

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Quick Answer

China's population grew rapidly from 1949 to 1980 due to high birth rates and low death rates, according to Asia for Educators from Columbia University. The 2010 Chinese census put the population at 1.34 billion, as reported by the New York Times.

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There are two reasons for China's high birth rates and low death rates from 1949 to 1980. First, the Communist revolution occurred, and China began to live in relative peace. Before 1949, many Chinese people died in civil wars and during World War II. Second, China rapidly modernized, and its citizens became healthier, causing their life expectancy to dramatically increase. In 1950, the average man lived to age 39 and the average woman to age 42. In 1998, women lived to age 71 on average, and men to age 68. When Chinese people began to live longer, the population increased dramatically. These population explosions happened despite a famine in the late 1950s that killed 20 million people.

In 1953, the population of China was 583 million. In 1999, that figure more than doubled to 1.25 billion. Since 1980, Chinese laws have required two-thirds of all families to have no more than one child, according to the Brookings Institute. The Chinese population is expected to peak at 1.4 billion by 2025 and then decline. This decline will be due to an increase of the death rate among elderly citizens born during the population explosion.

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