Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One-Child Policy to Change? Not Yet.

A parent holding a certificate hornoring one-child family

China will not lift the ban on a second child for at least the next five years in order to continue to keep population growth in control, said state officials, dispersing recent rumors about change of the policy.

China’s family planning policy, however, is not equal to one-child policy, Mr. Zhang Weiqing, director of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, told a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

Most cities and some villages follow the one-child policy, and 36 percent of China’s population lives in these areas, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin as well as rich provinces like Jiangsu and Sichuan. But in many less developed provinces like Yunnan, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang, two children are usually allowed in rural areas.

There are 19 provinces allow rural residents to have a second child if the first one is a girl, and 53 percent of the population lives in these areas. Also in cities, a couple can have two children if both of them are the only child of their parents, state officials said.

Mr. Zhang Weiqing called such a complexity “the policy of differentiated guidance,” meaning using different guidelines for different regions, which is decided by the very different social economic situations across the country.

He warned that China is facing another birth rate hike, since baby boomers of the 1980s are reaching child-bearing age. Also, a high percentage of the large migrant population has more than one child.

“The risk is huge if the second-child ban was lifted at this time,” he said.

This news is one of the most read on so far this week, drawing more than 1400 comments, the mast majority of which calling for lifting the ban.

“A one-child family society is not normal,” one commentary reads. “Two children can make a family more stable, because one-child family has lower social security ratio,” says another post. Many people also saw it unfair that actually not everyone is required to have only one child.

Some posters pitched an alternative policy: encourage having only one child, allow a second one, and prohibit having a third. This idea is supported by many other commentators. There are also posts claiming that lifting the ban would not make much difference because they do not have the money to raise a second child anyway.

China started to carry out the family planning policy, generally known as the one-child policy, in 1978. As one of China’s basic state policies, it has helped the country to reduce the newborn population by more than 400 million and alleviate the population pressure on the environment and resources, says a newly released government document on China’s population issue. The State Council document stresses the importance of continuing population control.

China’s low birth rate could rebound in the next decade or so, when the country will see 8 to 10 million net increase in population every year. Other challenges include population aging, imbalance between female and male newborns and the ever-increasing migrant population, according to the document.
----by Josie Liu

The latest government document on population

National Population and Family Panning Commission

Online comments


JoeBlogs said...

interesting piece. no population explosion anytime soon then.

Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related publication interesting to you:

Aging of Population