There was a time the Chinese government made the one-child policy obligatory in order to control the population explosion in the country and a recent news from Reuters has it that there has been a major switch to the exiting regulation over the dramatic decline in births in the country.
The One-Child policy was halted as far back as 2016 which was then replaced with a two-child limit in order to stabilize the country’s economy from a rapid aging population.
The law failed to result in a sustained surge in birth considering the high cost of raising children in most major Chinese cities.
The policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population”, the official Xinhua news agency said following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
In order for the government to ensure its citizens are in the right situation, it planned to lower educational costs for families as well as step up tax and housing support while guarantying the legal interests of working women and halt the high dowries which is one of the serious reasons Chinese men aren’t getting married.
As of 2020, the world’s populous country had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman making it fall right next to other rapidly ageing societies like Japan and Italy.
“People are held back not by the two-children limit, but by the incredibly high costs of raising children in today’s China. Housing, extracurricular activities, food, trips, and everything else add up quickly,” Yifei Li, a sociologist at NYU Shanghai, told Reuters.
“Raising the limit itself is unlikely to tilt anyone’s calculus in a meaningful way, in my view.”
One respondent Zhang Xinyu who is a 30-year-old mother of one from Zhengzhou which is the capital of Henan province stated that the problem is the fact that women often bore most of the responsibility for raising children.
“If men could do more to raise the child, or if families could give more consideration for women who had just had children, actually a lot of women would be able to have a second child,” she told Reuters.
“…But thinking of the big picture, realistically, I don’t want to have a second child. And a third is even more impossible.”
In a poll on Xinhua’s Weibo account asking #AreYouReady for the three-child policy, about 29,000 of 31,000 respondents said they would “never think of it” while the remainder chose among the options: “I’m ready and very eager to do so”, “it’s on my agenda”, or “I’m hesitating and there’s lot to consider”.
The poll was later removed.
“I am willing to have three children if you give me 5 million yuan ($785,650),” one user posted.
Share prices in birth- and fertility-related companies surged.
‘TOO LATE NOW’
In a recent census conducted, the result showed a population growth at its slowest during the last decade since the 1950s which was initially the cause of concerns that Chinese would grow old before the country gets wealthy as well as being criticized for waiting too long before addressing the childbirth decline in the country.
“This is without a doubt a step in the right direction, but still it’s a bit timid,” Shuang Ding, chief economist at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, told Reuters.
“A fully liberalised birth policy should have been implemented at least five years ago, but it’s too late now, although its better late than never,” he said.
China also wants to delay the retirement ages even though nothing much was provided on how the country is aiming to make this possible.
With the two-child policy, people who have a third child usually get a fine of nearly US$20,440 (CNY 130K) as of late 2020 – according to a government notice in the city of Weihai.
China’s fear of a population explosion back in the 20th century caused the 1979 implementation of the one-child policy which was successful at curbing the population growth in the country but also led to a “coerced sterilizations” and sex-selective abortions which caused a serious gender imbalance in the country.
China currently has the highest population of men (most of whom are unmarried) as parents preferred mal children to female.
A study published earlier this year by academics from Hangzhou University found that the two-child policy encouraged wealthier couples who already had a child and were “less sensitive to child-rearing costs”, while driving up the costs of child care and education and discouraging first-time parents.
Su Meizhen, a human resources manager in Beijing, said she was “super-happy” to be pregnant with her third child.
“We won’t have to pay the fine and we’ll be able to get a hukou,” she said in reference to the urban residence permit which gives families the privilege of sending their children to local public schools.