Archive for ‘One-child policy’

11/05/2019

China’s mothers say no to more babies, they can’t afford them

  • Birth rate continues to fall three years after one-child policy was relaxed
  • Survey finds high cost of raising children biggest deterrent to second baby
Chinese mothers say financial pressures are stopping them from having another child. Photo: Shutterstock
Chinese mothers say financial pressures are stopping them from having another child. Photo: Shutterstock
Half of China’s working mothers do not want a second child, mainly because of financial pressures, a survey released ahead of Mother’s Day has found.
Another 40 per cent said they hoped to have a second child, but dared not to, according to the 2019 working mothers’ living condition survey by Chinese recruitment website Zhaopin.com, which polled 8,739 women over the past two weeks.
The biggest obstacle deterring the mothers from having a second child was economic pressure, with 85 per cent saying they could not afford the high cost of raising children.
China’s low birth rate has been a top concern for the government since it introduced a universal two-child policy in 2016. After decades of a rigidly enforced restriction on couples to have only one child, the number of newborns has not risen as expected.
Births across the country have continued to fall over the past three years, from 17.86 million in 2016, to 17.23 million in 2017, and 15.23 million last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Social demography professor Yang Juhua, from the Centre for Population and Development Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said there were several factors influencing Chinese women’s decision to stick to one child, despite the policy relaxation.

“People are reluctant to give birth because of two reasons: no money to raise kids and no people to look after them, especially when the babies are too young to be admitted to kindergartens,” she said.

The economic stress of raising a child was not about basic living costs, but the expense of extracurricular courses and tuition fees at elite private schools, she said.
“Parents have to send their kids to learn various subjects in order to keep up with their peers amid fierce competition. So the kids are called cash-smashers.”
‘Burden’ of homework leaves kids sleep-deprived Doris Ding, a mother of an eight-year-old boy in Shanghai, said she decided years ago not to have another child.
The senior manager at an audit firm and her husband, an IT engineer at a technology company, pay more than 200,000 yuan (US$30,000) a year for their son to attend an international primary school. His after-school classes, which include piano and public speaking, cost another 50,000 yuan a year.
“So it’s out of our reach to raise a second kid,” Ding said.
Yang said that for many families the second major challenge was an inability to find relatives or other trustworthy people to take care of their children while they were at work.
“Grandparents are too old or not strong enough to do that. We often hear complaints from old people that they are tired of raising the first kid and don’t want to help raise the second one. Otherwise, they don’t have a personal life at all for many years,” she said.
Chinese database lists whether 1.8 million women are ‘BreedReady’
Nurseries providing places for children under the age of three was far from sufficient to resolve the problem, Yang said.
On Thursday, China’s executive State Council proposed a raft of policies aimed at easing the childcare burden for new parents, including encouraging companies to set up day care services for children aged three and under, as well as extended childcare and maternity leave.
According to research by Zhu Qin, a professor from the Centre for Population and Development Policy Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University, China’s total fertility rate is just 1.54 per woman, putting the country among the lowest birth rates in the world.
As well as the economic factors, Zhu said women were not willing to give birth because of the lack of support from society.
The latest survey from Zhaopin.com showed only 8 per cent of companies had designated rooms for mothers and infants, while 40 per cent of working mothers said they did not take their legally entitled maternity or breastfeeding leave.
“In big cities, white-collar women face the challenge that their career progress will be affected by having babies,” Zhu said.
Source: SCMP
Advertisements
04/11/2015

Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s announcement last week that it will let all couples have two children ended one of the most contentious birth restrictions in history–the one-child policy.

Implemented in 1980 to rein in explosive population growth during the Mao Zedong era, the one-child policy and its enforcement had myriad consequences, including forced abortions and sterilization. It placed the burden of elderly care on single children and fueled a gender imbalance. Some researchers also say a new generation of only children – or “little emperors” — are more pessimistic and less competitive than older generations with siblings. Now, the Chinese government is shifting course to offset the effects of a rapidly aging population and to avert labor shortages.

China Real Time spoke to Mei Fong, author of the book “One Child: The Past and Future of China’s Most Radical Experiment” and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, about the one-child policy and the unwinding of it. The book will be published in hardcover in January, but a digital edition was released Tuesday, Nov. 3. Below are edited excerpts of the interview: Mei Fong

Many couples say that despite changes in the policy, they will not have two children. What can the government do to promote births?

There was a recent Internet survey [on Chinese website Sina of 180,000 respondents who were asked if they wanted a second child] saying that 43% of people don’t want children. But there’s a difference of what people say and what they will do. A lot of people ideally want to have two so that they can have both a boy and a girl. The problem is that the one-child policy wasn’t the sole reason people weren’t and aren’t having children. For urban residents, the idea of having just one has been ingrained in them. It’s a social and economic decision and it would take a major mind shift to think of anything else.

People consider it almost it irresponsible to divert resources from any child.

One of the things that demographer Cai Yong said that has always stuck in my mind is that people are too rational for the business of having children.

Who are the likely candidates to have more children?

It’s the rich ones who will add a child. Wealthy people have been traveling to the U.S. for fertility services and U.S. passports , though it’s unclear how many. I know of one couple in Shanghai who had three children by going to the U.S. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

But it’s hard to make generalities about China. It’s a big place and we all know someone who has had a second child or third child.

Will that mean that a two-child policy will create a bigger upper class? And what will be the consequence? One of the things that the one-child policy has created already is an inequality gap. The spectrum hit the middle class, because the people above the middle class can afford to pay for it, while the ones below were often exempt. The one-child policy is adding to the class-struggle issues. It’s the rich people who have and will have bigger families. They’re the ones that can afford fertility treatment, because fertility is a major problem. They could always afford to pay the penalties [for having more than one child].

Several years ago, there was a study that said China’s single children, its little emperors,  were less competitive and less empathetic than those with siblings. Do you see that changing? I have some doubts about that because there have been many different studies on this. But certainly, they do seem to give themselves more pessimistic labeling, like diao si [roughly translated as loser], than others.

Source: Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ

01/11/2015

China Abandons the One-Child Policy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China on Thursday said it would formally end its notorious one-child policy, which was intended to curb a surging population but has since been blamed for looming demographic problems in the world’s No. 2 economy.

As WSJ’s Carlos Tejada reports: In a brief statement on Thursday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said all Chinese would be allowed to have two children. It didn’t provide a time frame or any other details. China effectively hobbled the one-child policy two years ago, when it allowed couples to have two children if one parent came from a household without other siblings. It has also long allowed exceptions in some parts of the country. Advertisement

Still, Thursday’s move marked a symbolic shift as well as an acknowledgment that China now faces a looming worker-shortage in coming decades. China’s fertility rate, or the number of births per woman, was below the replacement level at 1.17 in 2013, according to the most recent data from the World Bank. Demographers have been urging Beijing to do more to thwart a predicted labor shortage, arguing that they should lift birth restrictions entirely. Read the full story on WSJ.com. Sign up for CRT’s daily newsletter to get the latest headlines by email.

Source: China Abandons the One-Child Policy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

21/10/2015

Time to end China’s one-child policy urgently: government advisers warn of demographic crisis ahead | South China Morning Post

Government advisers have strengthened calls for China to further ease its stringent one-child policy urgently, ahead of a meeting this month during which the Communist Party’s decision-making body will set the tone for national economic and social development for the next five years.

Newborns receive vaccines in a hospital in China. Photo: Reuters

In a report recently submitted to the authorities, China’s top think tanks urged Beijing to immediately relax restrictions on the number of children couples are allowed to have, according to an academic with knowledge of the matter.

The report was based on a survey jointly conducted by several institutes including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Renmin University and a think tank under the national family planning office, said the academic, who did not want to be named.

“There is already a consensus among China’s demographers that the limits should be relaxed,” said Wang Feng, a demographer with the University of California, Irvine, and a guest professor at Fudan University. “It’s … already too late to be doing so.”

While the survey’s contents were not made public, an earlier report by the China Business Network, a consultancy group, said it included predictions of the population trend and when it would peak. The survey had been commissioned by the decision-making authorities, highlighting the likelihood of a revision in the policy, the group said.

Source: Time to end China’s one-child policy urgently: government advisers warn of demographic crisis ahead | South China Morning Post

13/07/2015

Tales of the unexpected | The Economist

WEIJIA is a typical Chinese seven-year-old. He loves riding his bike and anything to do with cars; he is a badminton fanatic and has lessons twice a week. In a few months’ time, however, he will become rather less typical. He will have a brother or sister—something most urban Chinese children lack.

His parents are taking advantage of a relaxation in November 2013 of the country’s strict family-planning rules. Couples are now allowed to have a second baby if one parent is an only child. After more than 35 years of often brutal enforcement of the one-child-per-couple policy, some had expected a mini baby-boom to follow. The National Health and Family Planning Commission estimated that the new rules would allow 11m more couples to have a second child (there were already exemptions for some). It thought that 2m of them would try in the first year. But by the end of 2014 fewer than 1.1m people had applied for the necessary permit.

 

That worries the government, which has tweaked the rules not out of sympathy for lonely only children or for parents who want a spare heir, but because of a population crunch. The country is ageing rapidly. In 2012 its labour pool shrank for the first time in 50 years. In the largest cities the fertility rate—meaning the number of children an average woman is likely to have during her lifetime—is among the lowest in the world, at around one. For the country as a whole it is less than 1.6—far below the level of 2.1 needed to keep the population steady (see chart).

The one-child policy did not curb Chinese fertility as much as its boosters imagine. By the time it was introduced in 1979, the fertility rate had already fallen to 2.8 from 5.8 in under a decade, thanks to usually less coercive efforts to encourage fewer births. Ruthless enforcement of the new policy resulted in widespread forced abortions and infanticide. It inflicted misery on parents who wanted larger families. But its overall impact on births was limited. In most countries, rising affluence has led to fewer babies. India’s fertility rate fell steadily over the same period without such formal policies, even though its economy did not grow nearly as fast as China’s. In wealthy South Korea the birth rate has fallen to 1.3 children per woman, down from six in 1960.

China’s authorities have now changed tack, from relentlessly proclaiming the virtues of having only one child to encouraging eligible couples to “procreate legally”. But they should not be surprised that this is failing to achieve the desired effect.

Since the 1980s rural families whose first child was a girl have been allowed to try for another. More recently, couples who are both single children have been allowed to have a second. Yet the uptake has been low. Academics, including Cai Yong of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, conducted a study in 2007-10 in the coastal province of Jiangsu. They found that among 2,500 urban and rural women they surveyed who were entitled to have a second child, only 6.5% did so. Ethnic minorities (nearly a tenth of the population), have long been allowed to have two or more. But on average each ethnic-minority woman bears only about 1.5 children, according to a census in 2010.

Mr Cai believes that rising incomes have been a big cause of shrinking family size. “Development is the best contraceptive,” he says. Births would have plummeted even without the one-child policy, he reckons, though not as fast or as low. Families worry about the expense of having babies: good education and health care are increasingly pricey. A study by Credit Suisse in 2013 found that couples typically spend over 22,500 yuan ($3,600) a year to raise a child to the age of 18. That is more than three-quarters of the average annual disposable income per person of urban households. A government report in 2015 said that in the first five years of a child’s life, city parents spend twice as much as rural ones, even before the high cost of urban housing is included—particularly near the best schools (see article).

Chinese families want their offspring not only to get a good education, but also to gain an edge in the global jobs market. Hence Weijia’s parents spend nearly 15% of their annual income just on classes for him, including weekly English lessons. Over half of children under six take extra classes in addition to those at kindergarten, according to IResearch, a Chinese market-research company.

Grandparents help to reduce the cost of child care (they often live with their grown-up children). But since people marry and have children later than they used to, the age of live-in grandparents is rising too; fewer are sprightly enough to deal with two children. It has become so common in China to have only one child that society is no longer geared to handle multiple offspring: hotel rooms for two children cannot be booked online (parents must call); play vehicles in parks seat two adults and one youngster; toothbrush-holders in family bathrooms often have space for just three brushes.

Decades of propaganda about the benefits of single children have changed the way parents think, says Wang Feng of the University of California, Irvine. A belief that China has too many people is widely shared, as is a conviction that the country would have been far worse off without the one-child policy. Many Chinese are surprisingly willing to blame the country’s terrible traffic and its air and water pollution on overpopulation, rather than bad planning. Having just one child still has the whiff of the patriotic about it.

The government’s next step may be to allow all couples to have two children. There is much speculation that the country’s parliament will approve this next year. Family-planning bureaucrats still fret about what might happen if restrictions were to be lifted. But the same factors of cost and hassle will continue to suppress the birth rate, regardless of how fast the policy is adjusted. Growing numbers of young Chinese people now prefer not to marry or have children at all.

via Tales of the unexpected | The Economist.

25/02/2015

Big national birthrate rise signals new peak|chinadaily.com.cn

Change to family planning policy likely to result in 1m extra babies each year

Big national birthrate rise signals new peak

A new peak in births is likely to occur as a result of the relaxing of the family planning policy and could continue for several years, according to experts.

They estimate that the number of babies born annually will rise by more than 1 million from current levels, bringing the total number of births each year close to that recorded during the last peak.

Last year, 16.87 million babies were born in China, 470,000 more than in 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“This is a dramatic increase compared with previous years,” Yuan Xin, a professor of population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said.

The number of births declined steadily between 1999, when more than 18 million babies were born, and 2006.

Since then, the number of births has remained stable at less than 16.4 million, according to the bureau.

The big increase in the number of births last year was caused by a series of moves to relax the family planning restrictions, Yuan said.

Since late 2013, 29 of the 31 provincial regions on the mainland have enacted policies that allow couples to have a second baby if either partner is a single child, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

About 1.07 million such couples had registered with the authorities to have a second child by the end of last year, the commission said.

via Big national birthrate rise signals new peak[1]|chinadaily.com.cn.

12/01/2015

1 mln Chinese couples apply to have second child – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Nearly one million couples have applied to have a second child since China eased its one-child policy in 2014, allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child.

The number of applications is in line with the estimate of less than two million annually by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, said Mao Qunan, a spokesman with the commission, at a press conference on Monday.

Since China’s one-child policy was eased in a pilot program in east China’s Zhejiang Province in January 2014, couples nationwide may now have a second child if either parent is an only child.

Mao said that the commission will put more effort toward improving the population monitoring mechanism and will stipulate relevant policies.

“We will also collect public opinion on health care for pregnant women and children in a timely manner,” Mao added.

via 1 mln Chinese couples apply to have second child – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

02/08/2014

With End of China’s One-Child Policy, There Hasn’t Been a Baby Boom – Businessweek

Last November, China announced the loosening of its restrictive one-child population policy: Couples would soon be permitted to have two children so long as one parent was an only child. Government planners predicted that roughly half of China’s 11 million eligible couples would chose to have a second child within five years, and investors predicted a boom in sales of diapers, baby formula, and educational toys in China.

Why China's Second-Baby Boom Might Not Happen

The policy change has been rolled out in 29 of China’s 33 provinces and regions, yet by the end of May only 271,000 applications for permission to have a second child had been submitted. Many came from older mothers concerned not to lose their chance. At an agency in Beijing’s Tuanjiehu neighborhood that connects parents with maternity nannies, staff said that the majority of requests pertaining to second children came from women in their late 30s.

Six months into the new policy is still too early to judge the ultimate impact. But experts now express more modest expectations. “Every metric thus far indicates the loosening isn’t leading to a baby boom,” says Mei Fong, author of a forthcoming book on China’s population policies. With rising costs of urban living, Chinese couples are deliberately limiting family size for reasons similar to those depressing fertility in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Western countries.

via With End of China’s One-Child Policy, There Hasn’t Been a Baby Boom – Businessweek.

01/08/2014

China’s Girl Births Ratio Improves as Country Gets More Educated – Businessweek

Priscilla Yang is standing outside Tuanjiehu Beijing Maternity Hospital, her husband dutifully holding aloft a purple umbrella to shield her from the blazing July sun. The 27-year-old is eight months pregnant and feeling relieved: Her latest rounds of prenatal tests came back normal.

Yang doesn’t know, but wonders about, the gender of her child. A college-educated public-relations executive, Yang says she hasn’t tried to wheedle illicit information from the maternity hospital staff. Boy or girl, “both are OK,” she says. “What I care most about is that the baby is healthy.”

Yang’s indifference about gender is becoming more common, though the struggle has been long. It has been illegal in China since 2001 for doctors to reveal the sex of the fetus to expectant parents. When ultrasound technology became widely available in the late 1980s, the number of sex-selective abortions shot up. Traditional Chinese culture prized sons, who performed heavy labor on farms and were expected to inherit land and stay home to care for elderly parents. Daughters left their parents’ household to join their husband’s after marriage. The one-child policy, announced in 1980 and enacted nationally within a few years, only intensified the desire for sons. Even after the 2001 law, many Chinese parents managed to bribe poorly paid doctors to see ultrasound results—then chose to abort female fetuses.

via China’s Girl Births Ratio Improves as Country Gets More Educated – Businessweek.

26/03/2014

2nd-child policy hurts female job application – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

China has loosened its family planning policy by allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child. Unfortunately, the policy has resulted in discrimination against some married women who are looking for jobs or are already employed, according to the Xinhua News agency.

2nd-child policy hurts female job application

Xia Fang, a Changsha local who gave birth to her first child 10 months ago, said that during job interviews she is always asked if she is an only child or if she plans to have a second child.

“I don’t plan to have a second child. But when potential employers learn that my first child is a girl, they think I’m likely to have another baby,” said Xia.

Before the second-child policy was introduced, married women with children and work experience had an advantage in the job market, but now they are being confronted with gender discrimination again, Xia added.

Female employees of child-bearing age are being affected, as well. A white collar worker surnamed Liu said she was passed over for a promotion that went to a young man, because her boss thought she might plan to have a second child.

“Women have to work harder to be given equal status in the workplace. And many face pressure from their families to have second children, which can affect their career prospects,” Liu said.

“Companies can predict the cost of a female employee’s maternity leave when they’re allowed to give birth to only one child,” said Li Bin, a professor of sociology at Zhongnan University. “But some middle and small-sized companies can’t bear the costs of two leaves in a few years.”

via 2nd-child policy hurts female job application – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India