This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Will China Abandon the One Child Policy?

Although India is set to overtake China as the world's most populous nation 15 or so years from now, China's size will always mean that what happens in China will not stay in China. People cannot resist speculating about China's demographic future, as evidenced by the widely circulated non-news that the Chinese government "might" loosen even further the restrictions on childbearing. The Guardian has a lengthy story.
Thirty-five years after enacting draconian birth control rules blamed for millions of forced abortions and the creation of a demographic “timebomb”, China could be on the verge of introducing a two-child policy. The new regulation, under which all Chinese couples would be allowed to have two children, could be implemented “as soon as the end of the year if everything goes well”, a government source was quoted as saying by the China Business News.
But the article also notes that:
Beijing quickly played down claims that the two-child policy would be in place by the end of the year. “No timetable has been set to allow all couples in the country to have a second child,” the national health and family planning commission insisted, according to the state-run China Daily.
In all events, there is no evidence that couples are likely to respond with higher fertility, as I have noted before and as the article itself points out.
Liang Zhongtang, a demographer from the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, said the policy should have been abolished long ago..Liang said Beijing’s apparent decision to scrap the one-child policy was a positive and long overdue step. But even a full shift to a nationwide two-child policy would do little to reverse the demographic trends already set in place. “At the moment, many people are not willing to have more children, even if they are encouraged to do so. So in reality the government introducing the two-child policy still won’t have much of an impact,” he said.
Of course, this won't be the last word. If the government really does abandon the one child policy next year, there will be widespread speculation about an impending baby boom in China.

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