Birth rates in China are on the rise after the country’s policy on one-child-per-couple was relaxed. Figures rose to their highest level since 2000 in 2016, despite the drop in women of childbearing age. 2016 saw 17.86 million births, a rise of 7.9% on 2015 according to National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) stats. Over 45% of 2016’s newborns had at least one older brother or sister. It is expected that there will be between 17-20 million births per year by 2020. It’s also predicted that there will be 30 million more people of working age in China by 2050.
How was the policy defended?
The one-child policy was justified with claims that it reduced the population, prevented poverty and lessened the impact on the environment. Stats from China’s National Bureau of Statistics said the figure was slightly higher. The difference in numbers was linked to the statistical methods used.
China Birth Rate – An inhumane policy?
The policy was regularly branded as cruel and inhumane. It was enforced via forced sterilisations and abortions and actually led to the country struggling to build a sufficient workforce. The new policy enables couples to produce two children and has also created controversy.
Effects on the older generation
Some have claimed that the new policy is unlikely to bring the prosperity China is seeking. Rules were relaxed for some in the past, with ethnic minorities and rural parents often being permitted to have more than one child. Many parents and grandparents have been left with nobody to look after them during old age. Heavy punishments were handed to parents that failed to comply with the rules, and many mothers were forced to give birth in secret without medical care, leading to serious health problems.
Consequences of the policy
China is now facing a dwindling workforce and an ageing population as a result of its one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979. In fact, when a change in rules a few years ago enabled 10 million couple to have another child, less than a million applied despite the government expecting over two million to take up the offer. Further policy changes may be needed if China is to get close to the prosperity it requires.
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