For the first time in 35 years, China will allow its citizens to have two children instead of one to try to correct China’s rising population crisis.
When China implemented the one-child policy, it was meant to prevent a population boom in the country but after thirty years, the policy has shown its flaws.
With China’s fertility rate of 1.2-1.5 children per woman, China’s labour force cannot replace the retiring generation. 15% (212 million) of China’s population is over 60, and it is estimated that 440 million Chinese will be over 60 by 2050. Also, due to the preference for boys to continue the family name, China has one of the world’s highest gender imbalances with an estimated 106.3 boys for every 100 girls. This imbalance means that millions of Chinese men will never find a female partner in the country. With the working age population shrinking and the old age population growing, China is facing labour shortages that the country will experience for many years to come.
It is still uncertain what China will face in the coming decades as some families may have two children, while others may not comply with the two-child option. Children are expensive and some families may stick to only one, while others may want more and demand that families be allowed to have as many as they want.
The one-child policy was implemented in 1980 in response to fears of a population boom and limited couples to one child per family. Couples in rural areas, or parents that were both an only child, were later permitted to two children. In 2001, local governments were allowed to impose fines for families with additional children. It wasn’t until 2013 that the law’s enforcement began to wane.