Family planning policy becomes controversial topic
Updated: 2005-12-30 09:50
Future destiny of China's
once-ambitious family planning policy has become a controversial topic in the
a recent forum on China's population and economy hosted by the Beijing
University, the family planning policy was challenged by a number of Chinese
scholars and government officials.
A woman shows her one-child
certificate in Fuyang, Anhui Province in this November 14, 2005
photo. Some of nouveau riches choose to have their second or third
child by paying a handsome amount of fine, challenging the country's basic
policy on family planning. [newsphoto]
An unanimous opinion from the forum showed China should mull its population
policy in a more scientific way and seek a proper resolution.
Existing population structure remains a challenging issue.
Since China launched its family planning policy three decades ago, most
couples have only one child. Disputes are now raised across the country over the
expanding gray generation and skewed gender ratio.
Official statistics showed that China now ranks in the low-birth-rate" club
with a population natural growth rate of 0.9 per thousand.
At the same time, people above age 65 make up 7.6 percent of China's total
population, a sign of a quicker pace into an aging society.
The gender gap among children born in China has been widened in recent years.
Figures show that the average ratio of boys to girls was 117 to 100, exceeding
the norm of 105 to 100.
Chinese economists said at the forum that the imbalanced population structure
and aging population are likely to be a bottleneck of China's long-term economic
growth and bring about a series of economic and social problems.
"With a birth rate drop, China's labor force may stabilize at its height in
2013 and then gradually drop year by year", said Cai Fang, head of the
Population and Labor Economy Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social
Cai said China's abundant labor force once was regarded a "big bonus" to the
country's high-speed economic growth, with its contribution to the per capita
gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding 25 percent in the past two decades.
"But now the bonus is decreasing," said Cai, adding that the contribution of
population to China's GDP will also be reduced as the labor force structure
Proper readjustment is necessary.
Jan. 6, 2005 was marked in China as the "1.3 billion populationday", when its
1.3 billionth citizen was born.
China's one-child policy has successfully reined in its population growth and
helped prevent 300 million births -- about the size of the U.S. population --
postponing the arrival of 1.3 billion population by four years.
However, Cai said, it is necessary for China to make a proper readjustment of
its current population policy when a reasonable population structure becomes
more important than the pressure brought by population growth.
Quite a number proposals to solve population problems were delivered at the
forum such as raising the quality of China's labor force to make up the decrease
in the quantity of labor force,and postponing the age of retirement.
But most experts focused their attention on whether China should relax its
strict family planning policy, changing the current policy of
one-child-for-per-couple to the policy of two-children-for-per-couple.
Professor Zeng Yi from the China Economic Study Center of the Beijing
University proposed a two-children policy in future at the forum.
Zeng suggested that women should be allowed to have their second babies at an
age between 32 and 34.
According to Zeng, his proposal may help slow down China's pace into an aging
society and postpone the arrival of a population peak of 1.48 billion people to
the year 2038.
Argument: a risk cost of readjustment
Zeng's proposal has aroused objection from a group of Chinese scholars and
officials. Renowned Chinese economist Fan Gang said a relaxed family planning
policy in China will lead to an additional population of 100 million or 200
million, a big challenge to the employment.
Some other experts said the readjustment will surely bring about an
unexpected expansion of population in China, which will terminate the low-birth
Yu Xuejun, director of the Policy & Law Department of the State Family
Planning Commission, said at the forum that the readjustment will be based on
the cost of increased population, which may result in many new problems
including environment, employment and social securities.
The government is greatly concerned with the balance between the advantage
and cost of an readjustment to the family planning policy, said Yu, noting that
it needs a scientific decision in China on whether the family planning policy
should be changed or not.
China launched the family planning policy in late 1970s, which requires one
child for one family in cities, and allows two children for one family in rural
areas if the first child of the family is a girl. The policy also lays no
restriction to the number of children in families of ethnic