China ‘to ease’ birth restrictions by 2025
BEIJING, June 19: Chinese officials are planning to ease birth restrictions further and are considering possibly doing away with all of them by 2025, Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Authorities will likely begin by eliminating restrictions in provinces where the birthrates are the lowest, the news organization reported. The plans being drawn up would include policies to explicitly encourage childbirth, it said.
Beijing last month eased a previous two-child limit, allowing all couples to have a third child as it tries to slow the nation's declining birthrate. However, economists and demographers say the reforms are too little too late and won't be able to prevent an eventual decline in the population.
After the Chinese government changed the norms, social media participants cited the high cost of raising children in urban China, where housing can be expensive and children undergo private tuition in addition to public schools amid a fiercely competitive education system, as deterrents to having kids. At the time, the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, acknowledged the difficulty of having three children in big cities but also said economics was not the only factor.
Researchers at the central bank earlier this year called for birth limits to be abolished entirely.
The debate was intensified after the results of China's latest national census showed the lowest number of births in almost 60 years last year and a decline in the country's working-age population over the past decade.
The decision to allow three children in every family was a response to China's deepening ageing problem and aims to improve the country's population structure in the future.
The census data made public earlier in May revealed that China's population is growing at its most sluggish pace in decades, with the country adding only 72 million in the past decade.
The average annual growth rate was 0.53% over the past 10 years, down from a rate of 0.57% between 2000 and 2010 - bringing the population to 1.41 billion.
The total population figure on the mainland stood at 1.41178 billion on November 1, 2020. The rate is the slowest since 1953 when the first census was carried out.
During the period when China strictly implemented the one-child policy - from the late 1970s to 2016 - only couples from minority ethnicities were allowed more than one child.
When the country scrapped its one-child policy in 2016, there was a brief uptick in births followed by a decline that has steepened as costs continue to rise.
The slump in population growth rate - despite Beijing withdrawing the one-child policy in 2016 - will add pressure on Beijing to incentivise child-bearing as the most populous country deals with a rapidly ageing population and the added economic burden. -HT