As many of our readers are likely aware, China’s prohibition against having more than one child per couple will expire at the end of the year. Since the late 1970s, most Chinese families have been limited to one child each. The one-child policy was created to help offset China’s rapid population growth rate that doubled China’s population to well over one billion during the twentieth century. As of January 1, 2016, however, after more than thirty years, Chinese parents will finally be able to have a second child if they choose to do so.
The change in Chinese policy has been triggered by what has been referred to as a “demographic time-bomb“. According to the United Nations, the number of individuals aged 65 and older in China will increase from 131 million to 243 million by the year 2030. Without an increase in China’s birthrate, there simply will not be enough people available to care for the elderly in the future.
The goal of the Chinese government in ending the one-child policy is to increase the country’s birth rate by approximately two million per year. Despite the end of China’s one-child policy, the additional births that will result may or may not meet the demands of the aging population. It is now expected that fewer parents than originally anticipated will take advantage of the new two-child policy, due to high costs of living in China’s urban centres and a small number of parents who have so far applied for an early exemption to the one-child maximum. If this is any indication of how many Chinese parents will choose to have a second child, it is unlikely that the population will rebalance itself before the numbers of Chinese residents over the age of 65 explodes.
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