Ditching family planning would knock nation critically off balance

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-7 18:13:07

Family planning is dominating discussion again at the annual "two sessions."

The case of a heavily pregnant woman who was forced to abort her second child in Zhenping, Shaanxi Province in 2012 triggered public rage at both the local family planning department and national population policy.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows a drop of 3.45 million in the working-age population.

Yet the success of family planning has been proved by the economic achievements since reform and opening-up began. We have avoided more than 400 million people being born in China since the 1980s, relieving the stress on national finances. Abundant labor resources have enabled China to become a global factory.

But family planning has also caused some problems, such as the aging population and elderly citizens who have lost their only child.

It is widely agreed that China's population policy needs to be adjusted. But to what extent?

Due to the decrease in the working-age population and an increase in the number of elderly parents who have lost their only child, a number of people advocate loosening the grip of family planning. Moreover, in Chinese traditions, most families want one boy and one girl.

But I believe China still needs to stick to family planning. First, there are still 937 million people of working age, and the decrease in this population won't happen overnight.

Second, after three decades of rapid development and over 50 percent urbanization, we cannot afford the ecological stress of more people. If we see rapid population growth, the current infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, will not be able to provide the support people are used to. For families living in cities, the expense of another child will be higher than in the past.

China's population policy needs to be completed, which means avoiding population fluctuation, instead of completely abolishing family planning. Population fluctuation will have a huge negative impact on economic development and even cause social unrest. I agree that in the next three decades, the government should gradually allow a couple to have two kids.

But the adjustment of population policy must be in accordance with the direction of national economic development.

China is witnessing a transformation from labor-intensive industries to knowledge and technology-intensive ones.

The low-value-added manufacturing industry is no longer the future direction of economic development. Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea and Western countries are also gradually transferring manufacturing to Southeast Asia, due to the rise in Chinese labor costs.

All in all, maintaining the family planning policy still suits China in current situation.

The article was compiled by intern Yu Yuan based on an interview with Chen Jiapeng, an associate researcher of China Population and Development Research Center. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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