A few weeks ago we mentioned the news that China was relaxing its despicably evil One Child Policy. Understandably perhaps, the only response to that post was scepticism that we should take anything that the Chinese Government says at face value. To add a large pinch of salt to anything announced by the Chinese Government is certainly a prudent thing to do, but the fact that it acknowledged publically that a bedrock piece of social engineering was no longer desirable is surely worthy of mention and comment.

Then, a couple of weeks after that announcement, Dermot Grenham wrote a great post arguing that China may not be able to lift birth rates anyway due to changes in Chinese attitudes to sex and family ingrained by decades of propaganda.  Today, I wanted to follow up Grenham’s post with a piece from the Wall Street Journal that argues that the relaxation of the One Child Policy will make little difference to the demographic problems that China faces:

“In the short term, the change can’t mean much for the shrinking of the country’s labor supply. ‘It’s not going to increase size of the working-age population for 20 to 25 years,’ said Richard Jackson, director of the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ‘So the economic impact is long-term.’”

Allied to this is the fact that the number of potential parents who can benefit from this relaxation is a smaller cohort than the one that went before it due to the One Child Policy itself. There is a large ageing population being supported by a smaller younger tier or workers. Unsurprising really, when you have stopped the older generation reproducing for 40 plus years!

“Part of the problem, International Monetary Fund researchers Mitali Das and Papa N’Diaye said in joint responses to questions, is that the aging of China’s population is so significant, ‘it would need a pretty large increase in the birth rate to really counter it.’”

But added to this is the economic problem, its more expensive for people to raise children (a phenomenon throughout the western world – although of course, our generation is mostly far better off than previous generations…funny that…)

“[John D.] Minnich [East Asia Analyst for Stratfor] doubts the actual increase will be all that great. ‘The cost of living is simply too high in most cities to make raising more than one child wildly affordable,’ he said.”

So, even if the Chinese Government isn’t lying and it will relax the One Child Policy, it is hard to see that it will have a huge effect on the troubling “grey tsunami” that is about to hit China. It certainly won’t reverse the decline in working age population that is about to begin.  However, even if it does not change things demographically, it is still a positive step.  Quite simply, the One Child Policy is barbaric, and any change to it is a good thing:

“Yong Cai, a fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, applauded the move on human-rights grounds. ‘Many people, myself included, have been waiting for this quite a while,’ Cai said. ‘It’s certainly a first step of the return of reproductive freedom to the Chinese people.’”

Not to mention all those lives, inside and outside of the womb, that will be saved!

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...