Understanding China’s Move Away From A One Child Policy

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On Thursday, the Chinese Central Committee passed a new policy of family planning moving from One-child policy into allowing all couples to have two children. The committee did not announce when this decision will be implemented. However, officials explained it is intended to balance the population structure and release the pressure of an aging population.

This policy needs to get through four steps before being approved. First, the policy is on hold until the Central Committee issues the decision. Second, the state council must enact an adjustment opinion and the national standing committee must approve it. Third, local governments must submit to a higher authority for approval of their local blue print. And fourth, the local peoples congress must revise their local family planning regulations.

What Are The Reasons For China To Change Its One-child Policy?

1. Aging Population

Until 2014, seniors over 65 years amounted to 137 million, which accounts 10.1% of the entire population. According to demographic standard, a society enters into a graying society if the number is over 7%. Under this standard, China has become an aging society. The problem is that China has reached this stage before actually getting sufficiently wealthy. This aging population brings huge pressure on Chinese young people, who must pay for seniors pensions and other related expenses.

There is another problem: the Chinese population ratio of people between 0 to 14 years old. It is actually getting lower. According to national statistics, the ratio has dropped from 33.6% in 1982 to 16.6% in 2010. If the percentage of people between 0 to 14 years old is between 15% to 18% of the whole population, a society is in danger. The lack of a young population hurts a countrys consumption, labor power and creative economic activities. China will no longer benefit from its demographic dividend, which is directly related to its economic soar. China is liable to face the challenge of reduced labor power.

2. Skewed Sex Ratio: More Males Than Females

By the end of 2014, the sex ratio of newly born population of Chinese male to female is 115.88 to 100, while a normal ratio of newborns is about 106 to 100. The One-child policy contributed a lot to this result. The Chinese traditional view, which still exists in Chinese rural families, favors boys rather than girls. The One-child policy and newest technologies give people the chance to reduce newly born females and prompt a skewed sex ratio.

3. Low Fertility Trap

In 2013, China loosened its One-child policy into allowing two children. This applied to couples who had only child in his or her family. However, this measure did not receive a warm response, especially in cities. By the end of 2014, only 1 million couples who met this requirement applied for it. The numbers that the government anticipated was 2 million.

Chinese society used to aim having a big family with many children. However, this situation changed due to the high cost of fertility, education, and less dependency on children to support their elderly family members.

Image Source: VG

Based on the sixth national demographic census in 2010, the national fertility rate is 1.1811, and the number in Shanghai is only 0.73665. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Chinese general fertility rate is 1.4 in 2015, which is far lower than a normal standard of 2.1. This is very close to being recognized as the Low Fertility Trap. Even if the government allows two kids to all couples, it is hard to save this low fertility rate.

What Is Being Said On Chinese Social Media? 

On Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese social network, some people said: At least finally people got an option.” Fengde Yiren Shijie posted:

This policy can only satisfy the super rich and the super poor, because the rich do not worry financially and the poor have more children to carry out labour.”

There were also comments that said that the One-child policy will have the most effect on the middle class, especially people working for government. However, even if the government is going to allow two kids, the middle class still faces huge economic pressure to raise another child. According to a Shanghai, a family has to spend more than 1 million RMB ($157,700 US)  to raise a child until graduating from college, including education expenses, finding a job and preparing for marriage.

The Chinese Younger Generations Resent The Measure

The Chinese younger generation resented the new measure. The most popular microblog is from the generation born after 1980s. The microblog posted: 

When we were born, we were suddenly announced to be the only legally child in family. We have no brothers or sisters, even no one to turn to help when we got into fighting with other kids. And now we are suddenly told that we have to take care of four seniors and two kids…”

Some young people born after 1980s lamented: We turned out to be the only generation under the One Child Policy.

Not everything is a tragedy. There were also humorous posts: “Finally, we don’t have to go to the U.S. to have a second child!And another posted, “Can we have the fines back? And can we get rid of that certain department?”

As China’s famous one child policy is now ending, I can look back at the terrible social issues we have had to face under such a law: the heartache for families and massive demographic shifts. However, as China is already the most populated country on earth, the thought of an extra 400 million people filling up crowded cities, makes me understand that difficult choices needed to be made.

Hopefully, now China can move forward in a more stable future.

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