Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Population Explosion?

China is planning to abandon all policies restricting the number of children people can have, according to a report. Bloomberg News quoted government sources as saying the new policy would be dubbed “independent fertility”, and that the change could come as soon as this year, or by 2019 at the latest. There was no official confirmation from China’s National Health Commission

The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 before it was relaxed to two children in 2016. Critics claim China’s birth rate was already falling anyway in line with other developing countries, and that all the policy did was encourage alarming rates of female infanticide and other abuses.  In Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the policy was never implemented, fertility rates are among some of the lowest in the world.

China owes much of its recent economic boom to a demographic bonus, with a young population providing cheap labour, but that balance has now shifted. The State Council has said around a quarter of China’s population will be 60 or older by 2030, up from 13.3 per cent in 2010, and an ageing society is putting a burden on pensions and services.   

Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) told The Independent he didn’t think the new policy would have much impact either. “People are not having children in China because they cannot afford them. That’s not going to change whether you have a one-child policy, a two-child policy or a 200-child policy. Where the one-child policy did have an impact was on the rights of individuals who were poor and couldn’t just pay [the fine for having more children],” said Prof Tsang.

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