The first photo was taken on 21 November 2014 in Pudong New District, Shanghai. The second was taken in Guangzhou, and was featured in an articled written by Alex Millson, and published by the South China Morning Post on 2 April 2014. They reflect two consequences of the CCP’s policies. The first one might be a result of the One-Child Policy, the second of the absence of a comprehensive social security system. According to the article, the city closed the doors of a “baby hatch” just after two months of its opening due to the overwhelming number of children who were abandoned, all of them ill or disabled.
By the end of 2013, NPC Standing Committee [全国人大常委会] offered a resolution easing the one-child policy, requesting relevant local governments amend related regulations and carry out a two-child policy. It will allow married only-child couples to have two children in their new-built family. Currently, Zhejiang and Anhui have adopted this policy. Guangxi, Jiangsu, and Beijing will follow suit in the next few months1. It is expected that there will be a 1 to 2 million population increase in China within two years of launching of this policy2 .
One important reason for which the Chinese government implemented this reform on population policy is the ageing population problem. After 30 years of stringent birth control, the population of China had aged faster than those of other developing countries. However, the Chinese labor force began to decline. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, by the end of 2012, China’s labor force, workers between the ages of 15 and 59, dropped by 3,45 million. It’s the first time that China’s labor force declined since it reformed and opened up3.
Japan has the most serious ageing problem in the world: Japan’s older population (over 65 years old) exceeds 30 million, which is approximately 24.4% of the entire population4. According to UN statistics, in 2010, China’s older population accounted for 9.4% of total population. This number will increase to 13.6% by 2020, 18.7% by 2030, 26.8% by 2040 and it will reach 30.8% by 2050.5, which means that in less than 30 years, China will follow in Japan’s footsteps and encounter the same serious problem of an ageing society. Yet, Japan is different, as it first felt the effects of its ageing society in 1970, when their per capita income was around $ 2,0006. Seeing the start of an ageing society in 1999, with a per capita income of less than $ 1,000 at the time, China has since been regarded as a country experiencing ageing before affluence [未富先老].
At this stage, Chinese government’s deregulation of birth policy may be a solution to the structural population problem. However, Chinese government will now have to deal with the issue of how to implement medical services support, nursery schools, and other aspects of public services.
- Zhongguo fang kai dandu er tai, http://news.sina.com.cn/c/z/jszctz/, accessed on 11 February, 2014
- Ge shengfen “dandu er hai” jinzhan bu yi quanmian fang kai shang wu shijian biao, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2014-01/18/c_126023868.htm, accessed on 11 February, 2014
- Guojia tongji ju fabu 2012 nian hongguan jingji shuju, http://big5.ce.cn/gate/big5/www.ce.cn/ztpd/xwzt/zhibo/tjj2012/index.shtml, , accessed on 11 February, 2014
- Zhongguo wei fu xian lao quanqiu weiyi, http://udn.com/NEWS/MAINLAND/MAI3/8464199.shtml, accessed on 11 February, 2014
- Cai Fang (2012), “Ageing before Affluence”and China’s Sustainable Economic Growth, International Economic Review, 2012, 1, pp. 82-95
- Japan – GDP per capita, http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/japan/gdp-per-capita, accessed on 11 February, 2014
Wang Feng is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. He is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Between 2010 and 2013, he served as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing. Wang Feng received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan. Between 1989 and 1996, he was a Research Fellow at the East-West Center.
Wang Feng (2013), Bringing an End to a Senseless Policy. China’s ‘One-Child’ Rule Should Be Scrapped The New York Times November 19, 2013
Shanghai-China announced last week that it would loosen its famous “one-child” policy, enforced since 1980. The world’s most controversial birth-control policy, initially imposed as an emergency measure at the start of the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, seems to finally be on its way out, more than a generation later.
This change, however, has come rather late, and it is still highly limited. Since its inception more than 30 years ago, China has made only one set of adjustments to the policy. In the mid-1980s, responding to a backlash of violence and abuse associated with enforcement of the policy, the government allowed rural couples with only a girl to have a second child (so the parents could try for a son) and, later on, couples who are both only children could have a second child. Now couples will be allowed to have two children if just one parent is an only child.
Feng Wang, Yong Cai and Baochang Gu (2013) Population, Policy, and Politics: How Will History Judge China’s One-Child Policy? Population and Development Review 38 (Supplement): 115–129 (2012)
One of the main puzzles of modern population and social history is why, among all countries confronting rapid population growth in the second half of the twentieth century, China chose to adopt an extreme measure of birth control known as the one-child policy. a related question is why such a policy, acknowledged to have many undesirable consequences, has been retained for so long, even beyond the period of time anticipated by its creators.
Why China Needs More Babies 11/18/2013
China is easing its one-child policy as part of a blueprint of economic and social reforms drawn up by the Communist Party leadership. Professor and demographer Feng Wang tells Deborah Kan why the country needs more babies to support its aging population.