China abandon’s one child policy and other commitments of China’s Government
It seems that the new Chinese Government is determined to modernise its policy, however it is not yet clear if this is just a window dressing in regard to the criticism from the outside or a real turning tide
The looming worker shortage is a fact and that is why the Chinese government is allowing more couples to have a second child in a surprise concession over a much disliked control that comes as the country faces a looming worker shortage.
Couples will be able to have two children if one spouse is an only child, the most significant adjustment in a policy that has defined Chinese family life for more than three decades and perhaps the most dramatic policy change declared out of leaders’ recent party conclave.
Previous exemptions mainly allowed some rural couples to have a second child and ethnic minorities to have more. Couples consisting of two only children were also exempt. The new move expands exemptions to many more couples, majorly urban ones who have seen their living standards improve and increasingly chafed under social controls.
The document published doesn’t say when the new policy will start, it states only that it would gradually adjust and improve family planning, promoting the development of balanced population.
Initiated in 1980’, the policy was intended to rein in explosive population growth and help raise living standards. It led to a host of problems, abortions and sterilisation forced upon women by officials to meet population targets and tiny nuclear families that placed the burden of elderly care on single children. Birth rates have already fallen, in some cities to level below the need to replace the current population. If this would not have been addressed, the labour force would further shrink, with pressuring wages and inflation, and fewer workers would be taking care of a growing elderly population, potentially creating a pension shortfall.
Companies manufacturing or operating in China have already seen their profits diminish as the supply of labour – seen as China’s most competitive advantage in attracting foreign companies – tightens, pushing up wages.
China’s working age population – those ages 15 – 64 – is drastically shrinking. From 2010 to 2013, China’s labour force is expected to lose 67 million workers, more than the enti8re population of France remarked by the UN United Nations. China’s population rose to 1.34 million in 2010, it had been projected to peak at around 1.4 billion in a decade, but to decline in the next 30 years.
Even with the right to have more children, recent research on the impact of the one-child policy’s various exemptions suggest fewer Chinese want them. The Shanghai government found in a survey of 2012 that couples born after 1980 are willing to have only 1.2 children on average. The average number of children born per couple in the city is 0.7, well below the rate of population replacement. Better educated Chinese cite higher costs of living and raising a child as reasons for not having a second child.
The conclave of the Chinese party listed other ambitious goals. The prices for resources like water, oil and natural gas will be freed from controls, restrictions on investment abroad by firms and individuals will be eased, a carbon trading system is to be developed. But many of such topics have been on official lists of things to be done for years. It has to be seen if the proclamations are going to be fulfilled.