22 October 2016
Many urban couples in the mainland say it is too costly to have another child. Photo: CNSA
Many urban couples in the mainland say it is too costly to have another child. Photo: CNSA

Families in big cities react coolly to end of one-child policy

Families in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai responded coolly to the end of the country’s one-child policy, Sing Tao Daily reported Monday.

The Chinese government, which announced the change Thursday after high-level political meetings in Beijing, said it is aimed at stopping the decline in the birth rate and strengthening the country’s workforce as the population ages.

China, the world’s most populous country, launched the one-child policy in 1980.

In 2013, the government allowed families to have two children if at least one parent was an only child.

However, many young people living in the cities are no longer interested in having a second child, citing the economic burden.

In a survey by Liberation Daily, about 55 percent of the Shanghai residents interviewed do not plan to have a second child, saying raising one would be too costly. 

Lu Ming, a professor of economics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said that incomes increase and the social welfare system improves, the birth rate will inevitably decline.

As in economically developed regions, residents attach great importance to the quality of their children, he said.

The cost of raising them will grow higher as a result, Lu said.

Further, the traditional need to raise children to provide for their parents’ old age is diminishing as social welfare nets are built, he said.

Many women in big cities believe that having more children will affect their careers and income, which also contributes to the declining birth rate, Lu said.

In Beijing, the termination of the policy also received a cool response.

A woman surnamed Ren who works for a Beijing-based state-owned enterprise was quoted as saying she and her husband had expected the change.

But now that she is almost 40 years old, their first child is already in middle school and she is about to be promoted.

“All of a sudden, the government says families are allowed to have a second child now,” Ren said.

“Do I give up the chance for promotion, take the risk of giving birth at my age, and then have a second child whom I actually can’t afford?” 

An online survey by Sina showed 38 percent of netizens don’t want to have a second child, saying they can’t afford one, while 33 percent of them want to.

Lu Jiehua, deputy secretary general of the China Population Association, said the end of the one-child policy is just the first step.

The government needs to launch more supportive policies, regarding maternity leave and medical care, to reduce the cost of raising a child, he said.

He predicted that if the birth rate cannot reach the government’s target by 2020, it may encourage families to have a third child.

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