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China Two-Child Policy?

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Family planning commission to study impact of moving away from one-child rule as experts warn of demographic timebomb

After decades of enforcing a one-child policy, China may in the future allow every couple to have two children, a senior family planning official has said.

China’s national health and family planning commission will study the impact of a universal two-child rule, its head of research, Ma Xu, told state news agency Xinhua, adding that there was no specific timetable for the decision.

Experts said it was inevitable that China would make the shift, but probably not for several years.

While most couples face large fines if they have more than one child, there are several exemptions, notably for ethnic minorities and rural residents.

China recently relaxed its tight birth control rules slightly, allowing couples to qualify for a second birth if one of the partners was an only child; previously, both had to be without siblings. The move affects a relatively small proportion of families, but experts saw it as opening the door to further reform as the labour force begins to shrink and China faces a rapidly ageing population.

Ma, who is also a deputy to the National People’s Congress, spoke in the runup to the annual session of the largely rubber-stamp parliament, which opens in Beijing on Wednesday.

He told Xinhua: “If the policy is introduced, the population would increase 10 million every year, which will put a lot of pressure on society.”

He said the latest survey showed that 60-65% of people in urban areas able to have children and 90% in rural areas were willing to have a second child.

Many experts and officials have lobbied for a two-child rule, in some cases seeing it as a step towards ending birth control policies entirely. They argue China faces a demographic timebomb and many believe changes need to be made rapidly.

Zhang Chewei, a population expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it would take a year or two before the impact of the recent change was clear.

“But there is no doubt that the two-child policy will be completely opened in future,” he said.

Yuan Xin, a policy expert at Nankai University in Tianjin, said there were concerns that changing the rules too quickly could have a dramatic effect on the allocation of resources and economic development. “At present, we cannot skip to the stage of a two-child policy without any restrictions … However, our policy will be looser and looser,” he said.

Yuan said if the new rules had the effects predicted, a universal two-child policy could be expected after the current five-year plan ends in 2020. Further policy adjustments would be a matter for the next generation.

Du Peng, an expert on aging at Renmin University in Beijing, said a sudden opening of the policy might cause an abrupt increase in births.

He noted that a 2006 strategy paper on population set a goal of controlling the fertility rate at 1.8 until 2036.

In most industrialised countries, a sustained rate of 2.1 is required for a population to remain stable over the long term. Many experts estimate the current rate in China is around 1.5, with some believing it could be lower

The Guardian

4 Comments on "China Two-Child Policy?"

  1. Boat on Thu, 27th Mar 2014 3:08 pm

    Even with taxes rewarding having children the U.S. births have been below replacement level since 2007.
    Only immigration has kept the US population growing. The US should stop immigration and change it’s tax policies and set a goal of 250 million citizens. Instead of promoting growth for growth’s sake and the march of 350 million and beyond. Technology and energy costs will continue displace workers in the future and a smaller population is needed to fit the new structure.

  2. DC on Thu, 27th Mar 2014 9:30 pm 

    Chinas 2-child policy, for when 1.35 billion citizens just isn’t enough……

  3. Makati1 on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 2:16 am 

    Perhaps consumption per person should be addressed instead of births?

    After all, if you take the US and divide it by China’s per capita energy consumption, you get Americans consuming the equal of 1,002,000,000 Chinese.(and much of China’s energy consumption is shipped to the uS in the form of goods.) That makes them actually equal to the US as far as consumption is concerned. So why limit the births? For every American born, three Chinese can be born.

    Or India. The Us is equal to 4,922,500,000 Indians in per capita energy consumption. So for every American born, there can be 15 Indians born and the consumption is equal.

    Or the Philippines where the energy use is less than the city of New York.

    No, it is consumption levels that should limit births, not numbers. Americans and their wannabees are the ones wasting the planet.

  4. Kenz300 on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 2:28 am 

    Every additional person adds to the demand for resources………

    Around the world we have a food crisis, water crisis, energy crisis, declining fish stocks crisis, a climate change crisis and an over population crisis.

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