China announced a significant policy shift on October 29, 2015. China will end its 35-year-old One-Child Policy. Following several days of economic strategy meetings, the Communist Party announced it will install a policy of “one couple, two children.”
Many believe the policy change to be a proactive effort to combat an aging population and slowing economic growth. Projections place China as the oldest country in the world within 15 years. The current population growth projects 400 million of China’s 1.3 billion people over the age of 60 in that timeframe.
Economics Driving New China Strategy
A significant driver of China’s recent economic success has been a surplus in labor supply. The surplus made for cheaper labor costs making China attractive in the global marketplace. It’s one reason so much of the world’s manufacturing takes place in China. With an aging population leaving the labor force, the government was compelled to look to strategies to keep China competitive.
Impact of China’s New Two-Child Policy
There’s no doubt China was successful in controlling population growth with the One-Child policy. How the new system is received will be interesting. To what degree will couples act on the new policy? Will the cruel practices of forced sterilization, abortion, and infanticide decline?
When China relaxed the One-Child Policy in 2013, it allowed some couples to have two children. Many did not take advantage of the relaxed policy, citing the high costs of raising children in China and the stress of the competitive culture.
Couples emphasized the importance of male children under the One-Child Policy. This was especially true in rural China. Many would resort to infanticide to ensure a son. No data is available to show the impact of the 2013 relaxed policy in 2013 in this area. Will couples be more willing to have daughters under the new policy? Will the skewed gender ration begin to even out?
Is the Two-Child Policy Enough?
While Chinese citizens have already welcomed the news of the Two-Child Policy, some believe it’s not enough. Amnesty International, a human rights group, issued a statement saying, “Chinese women will remain at risk of intrusive forms of contraception and coerced abortions, despite the authorities announcing a change to the country’s decades-long one-child policy.”
Willam Nee, a researcher at Amnesty International, said, “The state has no business regulating how many children people have.”