China Announces Official End To ‘One-Child Policy,’ But Fewer Parents Than Expected May Want To Take Advantage Of It
In a pretty major announcement out of China, state media has reported that the country’s one-child policy is being eliminated. Married couples in China will now be allowed to have two children if they so desire.
“To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development,” Xinhua reported, according to CNN. “China will fully implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’ in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population.”
According to the New York Times, China’s 37-year-old family planning policy will be replaced with a “two-child policy” in an effort to counteract China’s increasingly aged population. The BBC reports that currently more than 30 percent of China’s reported population is over the age of 50, which could have dramatic consequences on the country’s economic growth as older people age without enough young people working to replace, support and care for them. But now that couples are officially allowed to have more children, demographers say many may not want to.
There have been exceptions to the one-child policy before this. Ethnic minorities and people in rural areas could have more than one child. In 2013 the rule was relaxed further to allow couples to have a second child so long as one of the parents was an only child, but fewer couples than expected applied to take advantage of that new ruling, in large part because of the expense and effort involved in raising just one child.
In response to the Xinhua announcement this week, some Chinese citizens said they do plan on having a second child, in spite of the cost, while others said they had gotten used to the idea of having just one.
“Before I had my first child, I was hoping for the relaxation of the one-child policy,” said Chen Feng, a 36-year-old employee of a medical equipment company in an interview with the New York Times. “I changed my mind after I gave birth to my daughter. It takes a lot of energy to take care of a child, and you want to make sure the child will have a good future. So my husband and I have decided not to have a second child.”
When the one-child policy was last relaxed in 2013, fewer parents than expected signed up to take advantage of it. Allowing couples to have two children might not be a demographic silver bullet if enough parents decide they’re fine with just one.