Change In China’s One-Child Policy May Not Have Immediate Impact

Chinese officials announced this week their intention to moderate the longstanding one-child policy in the face of a looming demographic crisis, but many believe the ramifications of the decades-old practice of limiting families will fade away quickly.

The policy has caused social disruption as well. Due to cultural pressure to have boys, about 116 boys were born for every 100 girls in China last year, according to official media, compared with the World Health Organization’s natural rate of around 105 to 100. It has also led to horror stories such as local officials who force women into abortions to make population targets, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Hazel Denton, a former World Bank economist who teaches demography and development at Georgetown University, told The New York Times that more women advancing into higher paying jobs will contribute more to declining fertility rates in China than any policy change.

There also is some evidence that Chinese citizens may not be rushing to apply to have a second child in the near future.

In late 2013, the policy was eased to allow couples to have a second child in situations where one spouse was only child has only had a minor impact. But only 1.5 million of the 11 million eligible couples had applied for second child.

At the beginning of the decade, a decline in birth rates was emerging. According to the 2011 Census, the total population for mainland China was 1.34 billion — a decline in the average annual population growth rate, down of 0.57 percent in 2000-10 and half the rate of 1.07 percent in the previous decade, according to The Guardian.

The data imply that the total fertility rate, which is the number of children a woman of child-bearing age can expect to have, on average, during her lifetime, may now be just 1.4, far below the “replacement rate” of 2.1, which eventually leads to the population stabilizing.

Analysts saw those numbers as potentially foretelling the downfall of the one-child policy.



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