China's longtime policy of limiting most families to raising one child has caused a rapid decline in the country's birthrate in the past two years, The Wall Street Journal reported.
China officially ended the policy in 2016, moving to allow families to have up to two children and, later, three children, but birthrates still dropped for the first time in decades only a few years later from 7.52 million births in 2021 to 6.77 million in 2022.
Xiujian Peng, a senior research fellow at Australia's Victoria University who studies population economics with a focus on China, told the Journal that when it comes to birthrate, "Our forecasts for 2022 and 2023 were already low, but the real situation has turned out to be worse."
Last year, the number of births in China fell by 500,000, which officials attributed to the declining number of women who are of childbearing age, of which there are about 3 million fewer than there were a year before, as well as "changes in people's thinking about births, postponement of marriage, and childbirth."
Harvard University anthropologist Susan Greenhalgh, who has written about the one-child policy, told the Journal that the idea came from a Chinese missile scientist named Song Jian, who worked with mathematicians to create a model that calculated the impact of fertility rates on China's population, and determined that rapid population growth would be harmful to the country's hopes of financial success and modernization.
"He used a frightening narrative of a coming demographic-economic-ecological crisis to persuade people," Greenhalgh said.
She noted that modern young Chinese women "are not going to accept going back to the family to be housewives," and other researchers have noted that Song's model failed to account for the migration of rural Chinese to cities over the years, as those urban regions expanded.
"For many years overpopulation was China's major concern. It was difficult to convince the government and the public that China will have the problem of fast decline and aging of the population," Zuo Xuejin, a retired demographer and head of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences's research team, told the newspaper.
Theodore Bunker ✉
Theodore Bunker, a Newsmax writer, has more than a decade covering news, media, and politics.
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