PETALING JAYA: The fertility rate of Chinese women in Malaysia fell drastically from an average of 7.4 children in 1957 to just 1.4 last year.
According to the department of statistics, the declining birth rate will see the Chinese population drop to less than 20% in 2030, reports Sin Chew Daily.
The numbers are a stark difference to pre-independence days, where the Chinese made up as much as 37.4% of the country’s population.
Despite the drop, department’s director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hasan assuaged the public’s worries, saying the Chinese would remain Malaysia’s second largest ethnic group.
“The Chinese do not have to worry about becoming the nation’s minority group,” he told the Chinese daily.
Come 2040, according to Dr Abdul Rahman, the Chinese population is expected to increase to 7.1 million from the current 6.6mil.
However, the Chinese ratio, compared to other races, will fall to just 18.4%.
Similarly, the Indian population will fall to just 5.9% despite seeing its numbers grow to 2.3 million, from the current 1.99 million.
He added the projection might not be fully accurate, but that the birth patterns were unlikely to change unless there was a huge change in the country’s environment such as war.
The report also quoted the department’s Population and Demographic Statics director Tan Keng Chuan, who said population momentum would ensure the numbers rise steadily.
He pointed out that Chinese women between 15 and 49 made up the majority of the population, adding that this model could be sustained for several decades.
However, he noted that the declining birth rate was a matter of concern.
Tan said countries facing declining populations, such as Singapore, are quick to implement pro-natalist policies, encouraging families to have more children.