China's statistics bureau announced a significant dip in the country's birth rate on Monday. The total population was announced to be 1.395 billion in 2018, a growth rate of .381 percent and 2 million fewer additional people than the year before, despite the government’s move to a “two child” policy.
Chinese population growth has been slowing over the past two decades, so the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. A recent Chinese government report predicts that the country’s population will peak in 2029 at 1.44 billion, before beginning a period of ‘’unstoppable’’ decline, leading to “very unfavourable social and economic consequences’’.
The slowing growth rate is in part due to disinclination on the part of Chinese couples of child-bearing age to have children. People have spent so many years hearing government propaganda that just one child is better, it is now hard for the government to quickly turn that mentality around as the labour force wanes.
Beijing office worker Mina Cai commented:
“Many of us grew up as only children and we're a little selfish about putting our own satisfaction above having kids.”
Are this new generation of Chinese adults missing out on the virtues cultivated in the day-to-day give and take of both being part of and bringing up a family with siblings?
In particular, the expense of bringing up children is a major concern for parents. Chinese parents are generally very driven and many consider it easier to concentrate on bringing up one successful child for whom they are able to provide everything.
There are also fewer women to actually encourage to have children due to decades of parents choosing to have only sons.
As a result, there are far fewer people left in the working age population bracket to support the growing elderly, and the ratio of working people to elderly people will continue to decrease in the coming years.
It is hard on only children to support both parents and work and/or bring up their own families. It is even worse for the elderly whose only child has sadly passed away and now have no family support at all.
What are the economic solutions for China going forward? Immigration is one solution. Or will China be successful in convincing people to now have more than one children?