China’s U-Turn On The One Child Policy

On July 24th, China announced a “partial-lift” on it’s one child policy, which means that urban couples who were each only single children will be allowed to have two children. In the past, urban couples were only allowed one child, rural couples, who had a girl as their first child were always allowed to have a second child and ethnic minorities were exempted from the one-child policy completely.

What has it done for China, so far?

People over 60 make up 22 per cent of the city’s total population, a number that is expected to grow to 34 per cent in 2020. China’s “one-child” policy, first implemented in 1979, has resulted in 400 million fewer births, according to the government, based on the source here, and this could potentially have inverted the demographics in favor of younger generation (85:15) at the cost of a larger population, overall.

To begin with there are speculations abound that, the one-child policy did not achieve much. Birth rate fell from 2.9 (1979) gradually over 25 years and stablized at 1.7 (2004). However, for a short 10 year period preceding the policy the birth rate fell from 5.9 to 2.9. Also, East-Asian neighbors have achieved much lower birth rates during the same time period – Hongkong (0.91), Singapore (1.04), Japan (1.38), according to the source – here.

How Will China React?

Many people used to the concept of a single child, as they grew up, may not want to go for the option For quite a few of the rest, the need to spend a hefty amount on child rearing, limitation on personal time and probably even hindrance with their professional careers might be reason enough not to opt for it. So, what does that leave us with? A probable option of willing, ageing grand parents raising the second child! Whatever it is, it is going to be another radical shift that the population will endure and cope with, in less than a generation, as the world watches on.

For me, personally, this is a quiet moment of reflection on the long term, voluntary, 2-child policy adopted by India which was a balanced approach towards handling demographics while reining in the population.

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