Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Debating the One Child Policy in China

A Chinese government think tank, the China Development Research Foundation, has called for ending the "one child" policy by 2015. I have been expecting this for a while. The policy was implemented in 1980 as a temporary measure to curb population growth, and it has worked extremely well -- Chinese fertility is now down below the replacement rate. The policy has also spawned much resentment and a severe gender imbalance, probably driven by sex-selection abortions. In the future China is likely to have more problems with too few children than too many, and worriers around the world have gotten agitated about all of those unmarriageable Chinese men. As China becomes more urban, and even peasants think more about affording new trucks than having more children, its fertility rate is likely to follow those of Korea and Japan down into scary territory.

Even if the government does nothing right now, I expect that within ten years China will be promoting childbirth rather than discouraging it.

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