Written By Riva Agarwal (Grade 9)
China introduced the one-child policy in 1979, which lasted till 2015. It resulted in a sharp decline in birth rate, and an increase in life expectancy, meaning the workers supporting the ageing population would be very less, creating financial issues for everyone. Realizing their mistake, they raised the limit to 2 children in 2016, encouraging a population rise, which also failed. The most populous country, losing its people, went into a demographic crisis, and finally, the government massively shifted the policy in May 2021. The limit was raised to 3 children.
China took this measure because a once-in-a-decade census showed that China’s population grew at the slowest pace ever, with projections that the decline might begin as soon as next year. The declining population raised concerns over grave labour shortage and badly impact the world’s largest manufacturing country, inevitably affecting people globally.
However, it only sounds easy in theory. Practically it was much, much harder. Parents were not responding well to the law, due to spiking costs. There was no stopping housing and education prices, and a lack of job protection for women didn’t help. Most couples did not want to have this other child and undertake the financial burden. China also has a very low fertility rate that of 1.2, however, the replacement level fertility is 2.1, which is a large gap to be filled in such less time. China recorded only 12 million births in 2020, the lowest for the 4th consecutive year. UN reports suggest India would overtake China to become the most populous country in the world by 2027. China’s situation becomes worse after 2025, when it goes into a negative decline of population, creating demand shortage, intensifying the economic crisis. All these problems lead back to China’s Draconian one-child policy, which ruined the country’s demographics, and it is now that China is realizing it.
The 3-child policy does come with measures of support the country will provide, those including taxes, financial support, employment, and education, to further encourage the birth of more children.
However, I feel it’s too little too late. 4 years is a small time to try to keep the population growth positive, and regardless of the supportive measures, Chinese couples have been restricted for too many years, and they won’t change their comfort and lives every time the Chinese government makes a demographic mistake.
Featured Image Courtesy – The Indian Express