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China's struggle for more babies in a graying society

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-22 18:39

NANNING - With the easing of the one-child policy across China resulting in disappointing results, experts are urging the government to fully lift the restrictions to counteract the countries' aging population.

Last week, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences noted that the demographic dividend has gradually diminished since 2010, despite new rules that allow couples to have a second child if either is an only child.

According to the report, the fertility rate is 1.4, close to the "low fertility trap" international standard, which is 1.3.

"History shows that no country that slips into this trap returns to the replacement level," according to Cai Fang, who co-compiled the academy's report.

Cai said the easing of the one-child policy would not make much of a difference and called on the government to lift all restrictions, "the sooner, the better".


As a graying China encourages its residents to have more babies, a large number of couples are giving the policy the cold shoulder.

Zhang Long, a civil servant in Beijing and a father of a 4-year-old, said he and his wife had decided against a second child, considering the "expense needed to support one more child."

The government lightened its one-child policy, allowing a second child if either parent is an only child, after the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2013, though the new rules have seen a lackluster take up, as many young couples feel pressured by work and living costs.

Of the country's 11 million couples eligible for a second child, only 800,000 -- roughly one in every 14 people -- had applied to do so by the end of this September, the latest statistics from the National Health and Family Planning Commission showed.

According to a November survey by China Youth Daily, of the 2,052 respondents, about 58 percent had not applied due to the "high economic costs", with "too much time needed" and "it was enough to have only one child" as the next choices.

Other reasons included "the view on childbearing has changed", "the application procedure is complicated", and "women have to sacrifice too much [with a second child]".

That trend has fueled concerns among experts, with many saying the partial loosening of the policy will do little to offset disappearing demographic dividend.

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