‘Two-child policy’ unlikely to bring birth boom

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-3 21:03:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

The one-child policy has been abandoned following the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. All couples will be permitted to give birth to a second child for the first time since 1980. The across-the-board relaxation of the family planning policy has triggered a public uproar. The Global Times has collected three pieces on this matter.

Fair education key to better future for all

When the one-child policy was relaxed in 2013, more than 80 percent of netizens claimed that despite their willingness to have a second baby, they may not be able to afford the costs of raising two children. The expenses for a middle-class family in Guangzhou to raise a child from birth to university will range from 680,000 yuan ($107,000 ) to 2.3 million yuan. Despite permission to have a second child, couples are reluctant to do so given the high costs.

Besides, educational resources have not been distributed equally and fairly. Statistics from the Ministry of Education in 2012 suggests a total of 180,000 kindergartens nationwide, of which about 70 percent are private. The rest are mainly public kindergartens designed for the children of civil servants.

As China's free compulsory education runs only from age 6 to 15, most parents have to pay tuition fees for their children at private kindergartens. The public ones, on the other hand, receive financial aid from the government.

There are also a few exclusive kindergartens in China. Charging parents over 10,000 yuan a month, these pre-primary schools have five-star chefs, foreign teachers, gorgeous architecture and classes geared toward individual interests. Students in these kindergartens receive far better pre-school education than the kids at ordinary ones.

Given their scale, ordinary private kindergartens are involved in extreme intense competition. To lower the costs, many of them expand the size of the classes and cut teachers' salaries. Over time, the experienced teachers quit. These institutions, therefore, have fallen into a vicious circle. They are responsible for most of scandals in recent years.

The unfairness is also reflected in higher education. Elite universities, most of which are located in large cities, follow local protectionism in enrolling students. This means talent from rural areas has limited access to famous universities. Over time, this will cause a huge waste of talent and social resources.

Therefore, taking the climbing costs and unfair distribution of education resources into account, even if couples are now allowed to have two children, the birth rate is not likely to witness rapid growth. To tackle the aging problem and alleviate the labor shortage in the next few decades, an all-out relaxation of the family planning policy is not enough. Government should put more efforts into fairly distributing educational resources.


Lukewarm response greets new policy

Previously, the government was promoting the one-child policy, claiming that it would shoulder the responsibility to care for the elderly. Today, the two-child policy was approved to tackle with the aging problem.

The change, in some people's eye, is wild and absurd. While encouraging childbirth seems to be an ideal approach to balance the aging population, whether citizens are willing to give birth to a second baby is another important issue.

Upon the lift of the one-child policy, polls carried out by Jiefang Daily suggest that more than 55 percent of respondents have no desire to have a second child. Citizens' willingness to have children will not witness a dramatic change in the long term.

The two-child policy will not be as popular as imagined.

It has only been about two years since the relaxation of the one-child policy in 2013, and the relaxation has not been effective in encouraging more births.

It was estimated by the National Health and Family Planning Commission that more than 2 million new babies would arrive every year.

However, only 700,000 out of 11 million qualified couples had launched applications to have a second child by late 2014.

Even if the government successfully discouraged childbirth by administrative means, for instance, the one-child policy, it does not mean that an all-out relaxation of the family planning policy will make people more willing to have kids.

It remains unknown whether the two-child policy may stir people's enthusiasm and willingness to have more children. But the more economically developed your situation is, the less likely you are to want children.

In other words, economic development is the best contraceptive. Therefore, just as analysts have suggested, do not wait to relax the family planning policy until citizens have lost their desire to have children. Such tragedy should have been anticipated before it is too late.

The two-child policy itself is a planned policy to control birth, and the government is still following a cautious attitude toward the birth rate.

Yet, as the intention of the two-child policy is to tackle the aging problem, the government, besides supporting and guaranteeing the implementation of the policy, should take citizens' fertility rights into full consideration.


National destiny hinges on demography

It is reported that the family planning service will be improved in the implementation of the two-child policy. Instead of going through the tedious process of being examined and approved, couples will only need to register to the authorities before giving birth to their second baby.

It took quite some time for the public appeals to lift the one-child policy to be reflected in this communiqué. Whether the new policy will really match people's aspirations is still waiting to be examined. After all, time is required for the policy to be effective. Some factors such as the overall economy and personal income expectations are also intertwined in the effectiveness of the policy.

The family planning system ought to shift its focus from "plan" to "service." The scope of the two-child policy has expanded to all couples. Judging from this, China's reform over family planning policy is making steady progress.

The role of the authorities should be weakened in the family planning system. Instead of focusing on planning and monitoring, the administrations should pay more attention to providing services.

Positive steps have been taken by both central government and local authorities. For instance, women from rural areas, from 2009, can enjoy free folic acid supplements when they are attempting to have a baby. This is to lower the chances of birth defects.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) is paying decreasing attention to monitoring. The overall population of newborns is expected to witness an increase, after couples are allowed to have two children. The NHFPC will definitely devote more efforts to areas such as promoting reproductive health and eugenics counseling. The ratio of birth defects is high in China. The NHFPC is expected to provide more support to older pregnant women and newly born babies.

The destiny of a nation hinges on its population. China's family planning system must be developed to cater to the interests of its citizens and the whole nation. The NHFPC should make concrete efforts to change the stereotype that too many people would be a burden to the society. People's livelihood should be given more weight in the implementation of the policy.

The Beijing News

Posted in: Viewpoint

blog comments powered by Disqus