Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will China's One-Child Policy Wither Away?

A report that the "widely hated one-child limit that at its peak led to forced abortions, sterilizations and even infanticide... may be on its way out, as some demographers warn that China is facing the opposite problem: not enough babies" — Long-hated one-child rule may be eased in China. From the report:
    Officially, the government remains committed to the one-child policy. But it also commissioned feasibility studies last year on what would happen if it eliminated the policy or did nothing. An official with the National Population and Family Planning Commission said privately that the agency is looking at ways to refine the limit — though not get rid of it.

    A people shortage may seem unlikely in a country of 1.3 billion, the most in the world. The concern, though, is not with the overall number. Rather, as the population shrinks, which is projected to begin in about 15 years, China may find itself with the wrong mix of people: too few young workers to support an aging population.

    It's a combination that could slow or, in a worst-case scenario, even reverse China's surging economic growth. The government and families will have to tap savings to care for the elderly, reducing funds for investment and driving up interest rates. At the same time, labor costs will likely rise as the work force shrinks, squeezing out some industries.
"My view is that it will gradually be taken apart, piece by piece, over the next few years," said Susan Greenhalgh, an expert on the policy's history, "until we all wake up and discover that, lo and behold, the one-child policy has been dismantled to the point that it's no longer a one-child policy."

[link via Catholic and Enjoying It!]

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Well, human nature cannot be thwarted in the long run. The Soviets got to experience that truth, we in the West are now experiencing it ourselves. Glad to see the Chinese may be wise enough to see the writing on the wall. I just hope that the policy changes as soon as possible to prevent the horrors that happen under the one-child policy.

9:53 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Sadly, as mentioned in the article, "Government control is no longer necessary to maintain low fertility."

Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea all have lower birthrates than Mainland China.

2:59 PM  
Blogger xavier said...


I read an article in the Strait Times that claimed that the ultracompetitive educational system in Korea inhibits families from having more than 2 kids.
What's your take?

I'm pessimistic. I think that the 1 child policy has permanently affected Chinese demographics. Even if the regime totally lifted the ban, the population won't rise.

Women and families with daughters will be very picky and won't 'marry down' with the rural men.
In any case, this entire policy was based on a profound fallacy: the regime never conducted a proper census after the Cultural revolution! Geez the Roman empire was commonsesnical enough to force a census just before Jesus was born so as to tax them more efficiently

2:31 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Xavier, the Strait Times is right to suggest that the ultracompetitive educational system here is responsible for the low birthrate.

3:40 PM  

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