China sticks to one-child norm

September 27th, 2010 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 27 (IANS) China will stick to its one-child norm in the coming decades to maintain a low fertility rate, a top population official has said, despite concerns about the policy’s side effects such as skewed sex ratio and an ageing population.
“Historical change doesn’t come easily, and I, on behalf of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, extend profound gratitude to all, the people in particular, for their support of the national cause,” said Li Bin, head of the commission, Saturday at an event to mark the 30th anniversary of the country’s unique policy.

“So we will stick to the family planning policy in the coming decades,” she was quoted as saying by China Daily.

The policy, which restricts most Chinese couples to one child, has reduced the fertility rate (the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) roughly from six to two since it was introduced in late 1970s, according to official figures.

Over the past 30 years, 400 million births have been prevented, official statistics show.

The policy has already succeeded in curbing rapid population growth. Outstanding challenges like an ageing population, a skewed sex ratio and a dwindling workforce will peak in 20 to 30 years, Li said.

Yuan Xin, a professor at Nankai University’s population and development research institute, said the intervention in China’s fertility rate, as a result of the family-planning policy, is partly responsible for these problems.

Yuan, who is also in charge of several of the commission’s research programmes, said most Western countries took more than 100 years to achieve similar reductions in their fertility rates without compulsory government policies.

In China today, the fertility rates in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing are already the lowest in the world, with 1.3 children per family. Many urbanites prefer to have a small family or even no children at all, Yuan said.

However, it has been demographically proven that drops in fertility rates always accompany the processes of urbanisation, education and economic development, without any administrative intervention, experts said.

Some have argued that it is time for the government to relax its family-planning policy to offset the country’s ageing population, which could possibly undermine economic development.

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