Another baby boom for China? Not necessarily so

The Communist Party of China has further relaxed its family planning policy by allowing all couples to have a second child.

The change is intended to ease pressure from the aging trend and improve the balanced development of population.

Many young couples are thrilled by the new policy.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Shanghai resident:
“I was born in the 1980s. For me, I’d like to have a second child, because to be an only child myself, it felt a bit lonely without brothers or sisters when I grew up. So I would like to let my child have a sister or a brother as company.”

However, not all young people want a second child, given the bigger pressure they will have to bear.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Shanghai resident:
“I think the policy is a good news for children, as they will have a chance to have brothers or sisters. But for parents, it could become a burden. The one-child policy means four grandparents, two parents and one child. After the change of policy, it will be two children. So for our generation, a couple will have to take care of six people in total. That will be a huge pressure.”

First introduced in the late 1970s, China’s family planning policy was to rein in the surging population.

It limited most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two, if the first was a girl.

Thursday’s adjustment came after a previous easing of the policy in November 2013, which allowed couples to have two children if one of them was an only child.

According to China’s official figures, by the end of May, only 1.45 million of 11 million eligible couples had applied to have a second child.

The growing population will soon create big demand for public services.

China will need more kindergartens, schools and — further down the line — universities.

Besides, having one more child will mean that women have to spend more time at home and less time at work.

Many women worry that it is likely to reduce employers’ willingness to hire women.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Hebei resident:
“For a woman, it takes a huge amount of time and energy to care for one baby. She would not be able to devote wholeheartedly to her work for at least two years because of the child, and she may not be welcome any more by the employer.”

Experts say, many work still needs to be done simply to persuade couples to reproduce.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HE YINFENG, Researcher of Hebei Academy of Social Sciences:
“In some governmental departments, female employees’ career continuity is protected. But it’s not the same case when it comes to private companies. I think the government should unveil new policies to ensure that women who work for medium and small enterprises will be able to enjoy career continuity as well.”

According to a senior official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, about 90 million couples will qualify to have a second child after the new policy is enacted.

And China’s population is expected to reach 1.45 billion by 2030.

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