Chong: Abolition of one-child policy not enough to stabilize Chinese economy

In an effort to replenish the state’s workforce and even out its elderly-to-working age population proportion, China recently announced plans for a new policy that allows citizens to have two children instead of only one.

China’s economic growth has been slowing at an alarming rate since 2010. It is predicted that China’s growth will continue to decline even further in the next few years. This new child policy is not enough, however, to fix a slowing economy. China’s decision to remove the one-child policy and replace it with a two-child policy will prove to be futile in the efforts of replenishing the workforce.   

In many modern countries, population decline has become a problem. People who have a higher standard of living often choose to have fewer children. With an increased standard of living, it has also become more expensive to raise a child in China than it was a few decades ago.

The Communist Party lifted the one-child policy in 2000, which allowed couples without any siblings themselves to have two children. An estimated 14,000 couples were eligible and only 360 additional babies were born.

According to The Economist, when only one parent had to be an only child to have two children, 1.5 million out of 11 million couples applied in 2013. If this trend continues, the two-child policy will be useless for China’s economic growth.

The fact that there still is a policy regarding the number of children that one can have is the biggest problem China faces with regard to the two-child policy. Forced sterilization and abortion is a direct human rights violation and will continue to occur as long as there is a limit to how many children people are allowed to have.

The Chinese government abolished reproductive rights through brutally enforcing the one-child policy. The oppressive society that the Chinese have lived under for the past 36 years has discouraged population growth—and as a result, changed the culture of baby-making.

Many illegal second children have grown up without an education or healthcare, always in the shadow of their older sibling because of the one-child policy. This has led some parents to feel as if they have only enough time and attention to raise one child when that may not be the case in reality.

The one-child policy is said to have prevented the births of 100-400 million people. Because of the culture surrounding the need to have a male descendent, females have been subjected to infanticide and abortion. This culture is very prominent—117 boys are born for every 100 girls.

It is estimated that there will be 30 million single men in China by 2020. Economists have suggested extreme measures such as polyandry—a woman taking two or more husbands at the same time. The one-child policy has arguably had a bigger impact on China’s social development than the Cultural Revolution.

With a rapidly growing elderly population and a dwindling working force, there will not be enough people to take care of the elderly in the future. China’s strict immigration laws also do not help the situation, so their only option is lifting the ban on second children.

China’s situation is more serious than the government perceives and the policy change will likely do little to combat the population issue. China needs to give their people basic human rights—such as complete reproductive rights—if they want to have more economic growth and fewer societal problems.