In China, the birth of a child is a matter of State. For 35 years, the government limited the number of children per couple to one to stop the accelerated growth of the population in the country. Now it seeks to boost the birth rate, as a way to counteract the imminent aging of its population, but with few results.
With the second child’s policy, which came into force in 2016, the Chinese government allowed couples to expand their family. However, factors such as the economic pressure involved in raising a child make couples think twice if they want to have a greater number of offspring.
In the absence of results of the measure, the authorities analyze new guidelines for family planning, while academics propose to provide support to couples who wish to have a second child.
With the one-child policy, implemented by the Chinese government from 1980 to 2015, it was possible to stop the population increase drastically. According to historical data of the National Bureau of Statistics of China, in the last 35 years, the natural growth rate of the population went from 15.68%, in 1982, to only 5.32% in 2017.
In that period, the birth rate in China decreased 9.85 percentage points, since in 1982 it was 22.28% and for 2017 it was 12.43%; In contrast, the mortality rate increased from 6.60% to 7.11 per cent.
Country with almost 1,400 million inhabitants
Now China, the most populated country in the world with almost 1,400 million inhabitants, faces the global problem of population aging, which has been alerted by the United Nations (UN).
This problem, which implies the reduction of the active population, forced the Chinese government to relax its control over family planning. In 2013, it allowed couples to have another child if one of the parents was a sole child and in 2016 extended that authorization to all marriages.
That year, President Xi Jinping admitted that the population has been a long-term strategic problem in China and considered that for a long time to come “the population’s pressure on economic and social development will not fundamentally change”.
17.23 million children were born in 2017
According to China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, around 17.23 million children were born in 2017, of which 51% were “second children.” Despite this, that year there were 630 thousand births less than in 2016, while the population over 60 years increased from 16.7% to 17.3% in that same period.
Given the lack of response from the population to the measure of the second child, academics have proposed that the government deploy more policies that encourage couples to have more offspring, such as tax cuts or subsidies. Even in recent days, two economists from the University of Nanjing planned to eliminate the limit completely and that couples pay a fee while they have no children or only have one, which was widely criticized.
About 75% of families are unable to have a second child
Despite the optimism of the authorities, the results of 2016 are well below the expectations launched a year ago by the governors themselves, who predicted reaching 20 million births in a year. With this, the warnings launched at that time by specialists in the population that the modification of the policy of the only child arrived too late to a population forced for decades to have a single offspring become valid.
Now, according to the commission, about 75% of families are unable to have a second child due to economic reasons and, as in many other places, many prefer not to have more descendants even if they have the resources and are authorized to do so.