A prominent Chinese economist has urged China to roll out a new ‘three-child’ policy in a bid to rejuvenate the country with a growing ageing population.
Ren Zeping, the head of a major Chinese think tank, suggested in an analysis published yesterday that Beijing should allow couples to have three children ‘as soon as possible’.
The proposal is aimed to tackle the continuously declining fertility rate and ageing population after China’s two-child policy failed, Mr Ren said.
A prominent Chinese economist has urged China to roll out a new ‘three-child’ policy in a bid to rejuvenate the country with a growing ageing population. This file photo taken on April 12, 2020 shows a baby with a protective face mask sitting in a baby carriage in Beijing, China
Ren Zeping (pictured), the head of a major Chinese think tank, suggested, in a new analysis published yesterday, Beijing should allow couples to have three children ‘as soon as possible’
Since 1979, couples in China had been limited to having a single child, a rule, often brutally enforced, intended to slow population growth and boost the economy.
But the law, which is estimated to have prevented 400million births, also caused long-term economic problems, huge social upheaval and human tragedy.
With fears China’s ageing population would slow its economic growth, officials announced a two-child policy in October 2015, which came into effect on January 1 the following year.
The legislation appeared to have initial success as an additional 5.4million babies are thought to have been born in China in the first 18 months after introducing the two-child policy.
But it has not worked as well as Chinese officials wished as the country’s birth rate continued to drop since 2015, according to Mr Ren, the head of the Evergrande Research Institute.
China’s two-child policy has not worked as well as Chinese officials wished as the country’s birth rate continued to drop since 2015 as demonstrated in the chart based on statistics provided in the analysis published Tuesday by Ren Zeping of Evergrande Research Institute
Since 1979, couples in China had been limited to having a single child, a rule, often brutally enforced, intended to slow population growth and boost the economy (stock photo)
In a new analysis penned by the renowned economist, he stated that as a result of the unsuccessful two-child policy, the ageing population and low birth rate had become one of the biggest underlying threats facing China in this century.
In 2019, a total of 14.65million children were born in China as the fertility rate hit the lowest point since 1949 when the Communist country was founded, according to state media.
Mr Ren estimated that less than 11million babies would be born in 2030 as ‘the effect of two-child policy disappearing completely, the improvement of education level and the advancement of urbanisation’.
Although 11million births may sound a lot, it is far short of the 20million a year target set by the Chinese government in 2015.
As fewer babies are born, people over the age of 65 are thought to take up more than half of the country’s population by the end of this century, the expert warned.
To tackle the growing ageing population, Mr Ren called for the roll-out of a new policy to allow couples to have three children as soon as possible. The file photo taken in November 2018 shows a group of Chinese women walking on a street in Shenzhen with their young children
To tackle the growing ageing population, Mr Ren called for the urgent roll-out of a new policy to allow couples to have three children.
The government should encourage more women to have children by improving childcare and protecting mothers’ employment rights, he suggested.
He also urged the authorities to delay the retirement age and create a ‘senior-friendly society’ with improved facilities and services aimed to help the pensioners.
The economist’s suggestions come after the Chinese government in November has drawn out its latest five-year plan proposal.
Among the party’s future, one included solving the ageing problem by ‘optimising its birth policy’ and ‘improving the quality of the population’.
An additional 5.4 million babies are thought to have been born in China in the first 18 months after it abandoned its controversial one-child policy on January 1, 2016 (stock photo)
The authorities did not go into details but they are expected to loosen restrictions on the birth policy to help boost the birth rate, said Chinese media.
The final version of the latest five-year plan will not be passed until the National People’s Congress meets in March.
But Mr Ren’s proposal has faced a fierce backlash online, with many netizens slamming the third-child policy ‘impractical’.
One commenter wrote: ‘I don’t even have money to get married. How can I have three children?’
Another user said: ‘Do you think we are all millionaires? I can’t even afford to live on my own. I don’t want my kid to suffer with me.’
Why did China have a one-child policy?
For nearly 40 years, each Chinese couple was only allowed to have one baby due to the country’s strict one-child policy (file photo)
In the 1950s Mao Zedong, the first Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, believed in the phrase ‘there is strength in numbers’.
The leader encouraged post-war Chinese women to give birth as much as possible. He awarded those who had more than five children the shining title of a ‘glorious mother’.
As a result, between 1950 and 1960, approximately 200 million people were born in China, more than a third of the nation’s population in its founding year 1949 (542 million).
To control the quickly expanding population, the State Council of China unveiled a family-planning guideline in 1973, encouraging couples to have a maximum of two children, with a four-year gap in between.
A decade later, a mandatory one-child policy went into effect to keep the Chinese population under 1.2 billion at the end of the 20th century.
The controversial policy was strictly enforced in urban areas.
If a woman was pregnant with her second child, she would be asked to abort it.
If the couple decided to keep it, a fine would be applied – usually three times the family’s annual income.
Selective demographics in the country, such as rural residents and minority groups, were not bound by the policy.
On January 1, 2014, the Chinese authorities launched a so-called ‘selective two-child policy’, which allowed couples to have a second baby as long as either of them is a single child.
China officially started its so-called ‘universal two-child policy’ on January 1, 2016.
Chinese family-planning authorities predicted at the time that an extra three million babies would be born annually between 2016 and 2021 due to the shift of the policy.