According to a recent report on the website of yicai.com, a Shanghai based online media, the impact of a comprehensive two-child policy on the size and structure of the Chinese population may be less than expected. Due to the diminished willingness of Chinese people to give birth, a negative growth in population may arrive as early as 2023.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) is the government agency responsible for drafting laws and regulations on family planning policy. According to an NHFPC survey, Chinese couples are willing to have an average 1.93 children. NHFPC projects that, as a result of the implementation of the two-child policy that started on January 1, 2016, the annual birth rate will increase to 3 million. This will increase the active labor force by an additional 30 million people by the year 2050. NHFPC expects to see the negative population growth begin in 2030.
However, a few scholars estimate that the positive impact of the two-child policy will be lower than expected. Yao Meixiong, a statistician based in Fujian Province, believes that an addition of 30 million to the labor force by the year 2050 may be an overestimate. Due to the ever increasing annual death rate, China will see a negative population growth as early as 2023, when the annual death rate exceeds the birth rate. This is seven years earlier than the official estimate.
Gu Baochang, a professor at Renmin University of China, looked at the characteristics of the women of childbearing age, more than half of whom are of age 40 and above. Considering the low willingness among the Chinese population to have more than two children, the new policy may not be as effective as expected.
Censuses have shown that the population of Chinese children who are below 14 years of age is trending downward in a surprisingly sharp decline. In 1964 the proportion of 14-year-olds among the total population was 40.7 percent; it was 33.6 percent in 1982; 27.7 percent in 1990; 22.9 percent in 2000, and only 16.6 percent in 2010. Alarmingly, the downward trend is continuing. According to statistics, 2015 was the fourth consecutive year of decline in China’s working-age population. It was the first time in the past 30 years to see a reduction in the population of migrant workers. Economists believe that China’s 2015 GDP growth rate, which saw a 25-year low, had a lot to do with the decline in migrant workers.
Source: yicai.com, February 1, 2016