In what seems like a continuing story of no news, the news out of China today was that the lifting of some restrictions on the one child policy--announced by the government back in 2013--had not generated the anticipated flood of new babies. Several months ago I commented on the fact that Chinese demographers did not expect a rise in the birth rate, but the government did, for some reason. It turns out the demographers were correct, as the NYTimes noted:
A year after China eased its one-child policy, fewer people than expected have applied for permission to have a second child, state media said on Monday, raising concerns among scholars that China could face a demographic crisis as birth rates decline.
The figures cited by the China Youth Daily will add to growing calls for the government to scrap all family planning restrictions as China faces the prospect of becoming the first country in the world to get old before it gets rich.
While China is the world's most populous nation with 1.34 billion people, many analysts say the one-child policy has shrunk China's labor pool, hurting economic growth.However, a story on CBS News suggests that we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for any big changes in government policy.
For the first time in decades the working age population fell in 2012.
On Thursday, a senior family planning official said changes were being considered but that family planning policies would not be scrapped altogether.Furthermore, the experience of China's neighbors, including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, where fertility is below replacement even without a government policy, suggest that couples are not going to go back to the days of replacement level fertility without major social and economic changes in society that would go far beyond simply scrapping the one child policy.