A year after China eased its one-child policy, fewer people than expected have applied for permission to have a second child, Reuters reported Monday, citing state media reports.
This development is raising concerns among experts that China could face a demographic crisis as birth rates decline, the news agency said.
While China is the world’s most populous nation with 1.34 billion people, many analysts say the one-child policy has shrunk the country’s labor pool, hurting economic growth. For the first time in decades the working age population fell in 2012.
According to China Youth Daily, about 30,000 families in Beijing, just 6.7 percent of those eligible, applied to have a second child.
The Beijing government said last year that it expected an extra 54,200 births annually as a result of the easing of the one-child policy.
In Liuzhou city, in the southern Guangxi region, only 20 percent of eligible families applied, while in Guilin city 30 percent applied. In central China’s Anhui province, just 12 percent applied, the newspaper said.
The newspaper cited a demographic expert as saying that families were worried about the cost of raising a second child.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission said nearly 1 million couples have applied to have a second child, noting that the number was “in line with expectations”, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.
In late 2013, China said it would ease family planning restrictions by allowing couples to have a second child if one parent is an only child.
Critics say the relaxation of rules was too little, and came too late to reverse the substantial negative effects of the one-child policy on the economy and society.
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