China has decided to allow each couple to have up to three children, ending its strict two-child policy. The change was approved by Chinese President Xi Jinping in a politburo meeting.
This comes after China’s population data over the past decade showed the slowest population growth in decades.
China’s demographic time bomb
The demographic time bomb has gotten China worried, as there has been a fall in its working-age population and an increase in those aged above 60 years.
China’s working-age population is expected to fall further in the coming years due to a steady decline in the nation’s birthrate. If the population gets too old then it would have a huge impact on the nation’s economic growth hence the issue needs to be dealt with at an early stage.
China’s Population Census
• China’s population census, which was released earlier this month, revealed that around 12 million babies were born in 2020, down by 18 percent from 2019’s report of 14.6 million and a significant decrease from 18 million born in 2016.
• The number of births in 2020 is also the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s.
• In fact, since 2017, China’s birthrate has shown a steady decline. This comes despite China’s relaxation of its decades-old “one-child policy”.
• In 2019, the nation recorded its slowest birthrate since 1949 in the year 2019, at 10.48 per 1,000 people.
China abolishes decades-old “one-child policy”
• In 2016, China abolished its decades-old “one-child policy” amid fears that an aging population and a slowing birth rate will pose a looming demographic crisis for the country.
• China had imposed the strict one-child policy since 1980 to control its population growth. The family planning rules were changed in 2016 to allow families to have two children.
• The change in the one-child policy was expected to lead to an increase in the country’s birthrate. However, the birthrate continued to decline as per the census data.
Why has the abolition of the one-child policy not helped increase China’s birthrate?
• There have been concerns that China’s policy changes are yet to produce the expected baby boom to help offset the country’s aging population.
• The main visible reasons for the same are falling marriage rates and couples struggling with the high cost of raising children in major cities.
• Women are also reportedly naturally delaying childbirth or avoiding childbirth due to their growing empowerment.
China’s population trends have been majorly ruled by its strict one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 to slow down its population growth.
The families that violated the policy rules had to pay fines or face unemployment and they were even sometimes forced to abort the child.