Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making the Case for Two

A professor from a university in Tianjin says the government should revise its family planning policy, and allow couples to have more than one child.

Yuan Xin, a professor with the Population and Development Institute of Nankai University says by adjusting the one-child policy, there will be less of a gender imbalance and more younger people to look after a fast-growing aging population.

Currently, the average gender ratio in China is about 117 to 120 boys for every 100 girls. The world average is about 107 boys for every 100 girls. That means in 20 years there will be 30 million men who will never be able to marry or have children.

In the last few years there have been tweaks to the family planning policy. For example minorities are allowed to have as many children as they wish, which explains why Tibet has a normal gender birth ratio. For Han Chinese, if the first child is born disabled, couples are allowed to try again. In the rural areas, if the first child is a girl, they may try again for a boy. And in the last few years, couples, both of whom are the only child in their family can have two children.

China's family planning policy began in the 1970s and the government claims it stopped 400 million births which it proudly says helped slow down the consumption of the world's resources.

But by the same token, the country has been criticized for its cultural preference for males and now it doesn't have a big enough working population to finance the aging one.

Yuan has suggested family planning be loosened in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) which is in the next two years. However, by around that time, almost every young married couple will be eligible to have two children because those born in the late 1980s and onwards definitely come from one-child families.

So what's the problem?

While parents and the government are trying desperately to push young people to get married and have children, how can couples afford to have babies if they can't even afford an apartment? Property prices are so high now that everyone's savings have to be scraped together to buy a small home. Some young women refuse to marry their supposed beloved if they can't afford an apartment.

The government should be doing more to control property prices (ie cut down on the unscrupulous practices of property developers) so that people are more confident about entering the real estate market and from there they can plan their lives.

If they don't even feel secure about buying a home, how can they even afford to have a child?

As for the 30 million single men... unless the government and society is more open to accepting interracial marriages, they're going to remain bachelors...

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