Have More Babies! China’s Concerns Over Aging Demographics

china rural demographics

Slogans, posters, musicals and speeches; this has been China’s chosen method of mass communication for almost a century, the most recent of which has enraged the public over its precise message; have more babies. At the heart of the issue, demographics.

Slogans on five-foot high posters have been erected in villages that read, “We must ensure the birth of a second child”, while zodiac animal stamps suggest large families are ideal. They have now been joined by an article by The People’s Daily, stating that this is, “Not just a family matter but also a national issue”.

Hashtags regarding the issue quickly appeared on Chinese social media soon after the aforementioned article was released, reaching over 15 million views; ordinary citizens voicing indignation at, “The government telling me what to do in my own bedroom”.

When the One Child Policy shifted to the Two Child Policy in 2015, it was predicted that by 2017, the country’s total fertility rate would be 2.1 children per woman. However, when the time came around, reality fell short, at 1.6 children per woman, according to CNN. Since then, government concerns are reflected in its recent campaign for women to have more than one child.

China’s efforts to control its population in the past later revealed a plethora of demographic problems, such as the country’s male to female ratio as a result of a favouring of boys. It is also now plain that the country’s lack of children is tipping the scale heavily towards its aging population.

China need not look very far to see the effects an aging population can have on a nation. According to the Financial Times, “Analysts fear that these [Japanese] demographics are hampering economic growth…. Japan is now set to be the slowest growing economy of the G7 economies of 2018”.

The problem the country faces today is its middle classes giving up their new found right, for no other reason than economic pressure. As the cost of raising a child in one of China’s more developed cities increases drastically each year, couples are choosing to stick to one child; herein lies the dilemma.

“This is not just an issue for China, it’s an issue that the whole world is facing”, Tracy, who works in marketing, told The Nanjinger. “The government needs to make sure there are enough young people to not only look after the elderly but to help the economy grow.”

In China’s not so distant past, during the 70s and 80s, women endured forced abortions and sterilisation, the devastating effects of which is mirrored back at them with the latest campaign. Will the pendulum swing back when the population swells once more?

It was predicted that after decades of enforced child restrictions that families would jump at the opportunity to have two children, which some have, but most haven not. As much as China is willing its young couples to support two or more children, public reactions online question the true intentions.

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Renée Gray Beaumont
As an Australian journalist living in Nanjing for many years, Renée Gray Beaumont has a background in research, print and online publishing, taking great pleasure in discovering more about Nanjing with every article. 作为在南京居住多年的澳大利亚新闻工作者,Renee Gray Beaumont 有着调研以及印刷品和线上出版物的工作背景。她总是乐于在每篇文章里发现关于南京的内容。