China's population fell for a second consecutive year in 2023, as a plunging birthrate and a wave of COVID-19 deaths when strict lockdowns ended accelerated a downturn that will have profound long-term effects on the economy's growth potential.

The National Bureau of Statistics said the total number of people in China dropped by 2.75 million to 1.409 billion in 2023, a faster decline than in 2022, which was the first since 1961 during the Great Famine of the Mao Zedong era.

China experienced a dramatic nationwide COVID-19 surge early last year after three years of tight screening and quarantine measures kept the virus largely contained until authorities abruptly lifted curbs in December 2022.