Faced with the challenge of the aging of its population, China is taking another step towards liberalizing its birth rate and authorizing a third child. But not sure that Chinese women are flocking to maternity hospitals.
The China is still the most populous country in the world with 1,412 billion. But its population is only increasing by 0.53% per year. And above all, the thirty-five years of the one-child policy, from 1979-1980 to 2015, profoundly modified its age pyramid. The objective of improving the standard of living of the population, aimed at by its initiators, has been achieved. But now that the “only children” are of parentage age, and their parents of retirement age, there is a big problem.
1. What is the problem for China?
The ageing of the population. The economic cost of its support in relation to the working population is mathematically unbalanced by the one-child policy. Each single child, now an adult, bears the burden of supporting both parents on their shoulders alone.
2. What was the impact of the authorization to pass to two children in 2015?
Apart from a weak rebound just after the announcement, this first authorization had no effect. The number of births resumed its fall in 2016 to fall to twelve million in 2020 against 14.65 million in 2019. That year, the birth rate had already hit a low since the founding of Communist China in 1949.
3. Is this authorization likely to be a game-changer?
Not really if taken alone. The low enthusiasm for the second child in urban and affluent circles since 2015 has shown that the authorities’ green light alone will not have a magical effect. Additional announcements are expected on social support for childcare, maternity leave, the cost of their education, etc.