After last year’s headcount of China’s 1.4 billion population, Beijing’s shift last month from enforced contraception to encouraged baby-making appeared to be opportune. It took less than 20 days from releasing key findings of the census in early May to relax birth control demands and encourage each couple to have up to three babies rather than two.
While there have been tepid responses from Chinese in their prime reproductive ages, Beijing is trying new measures for more babies even with relaxed birth controls still in place. The latest turnaround was conceived when the National Statistics Bureau began to crunch census data since the first quarter. It presented a dire demographic picture that jolted the top leadership. The realization is that mere tweaks to population decision-making will not help reverse the downward demographic trend.
The world’s most populous country faces a looming “baby deficit” and accelerated workforce graying. The census showed China’s fertility rate stood at 1.3 last year, meaning the average number of children to be born to a woman over her lifetime has slipped to an all-time low since such censuses were first conducted in the1950s. The rate is now among the world’s lowest, almost on a par with fast-graying Japan.
Read more at China wants a baby boom a little too late