While China is doing very well economically despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis is still looming on the horizon. In this country, the birth rate has hardly ever been so low, so experts fear a demographic crisis. The Chinese government, however, appears to lack ambition to address this multi-faceted problem.
A future crisis looms in China
In the past, we have already spoken several times about Japan and its inexorable demographic crisis portraying a rather bleak future. Nevertheless, the Chinese neighbor could suffer the same fate, according to an article in Washington post of March 5, 2021. This country indeed continues its economic growth even during the coronavirus pandemic, but could face a potential future demographic crisis which could ultimately impact the Chinese economy.
The three main aspects of this problem are the accelerated aging of the population and the gradual decline in the number of working people (and working people). Let us also mention a gender imbalance with regard to births. Currently in China, 114 boys are born for every 100 girls. All this is the result of a 15% birth rate drop in 2020 compared to the previous year!
According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country’s population (currently close to 1.4 billion) is expected to start to decline as early as 2027. Another worrying fact: in just four years, a fifth of the Chinese population will be over 65.
Measures tinged with conservatism
Remember, however, that China had applied the famous one-child policy between 1979 and 2015. The objective was to avoid overpopulation of the country. Since the end of this measure, each family has the right to have two children. However, this does not seem not sufficient in view of the current situation and the country will undoubtedly have to step up a gear. As a first step, the limit on the number of children per family could be reduced to three, as is already the case in certain rural provinces. The Chinese government has indicated that it intends to pursue a birth rate policy aimed at supporting families wishing to have several children.
Nevertheless, the framework of this policy is rather vague and above all unequal. The fact is that still in 2021, the rights to medical assistance concern only straight married couples. Thus, single (or cohabiting) women do not have access to in vitro fertilization or to egg freezing. However, health officials in China have indicated that this is certainly not going to change in the near future. Indeed, a woman cannot have children in the absence of a legal father in this country.
The point is, the government is absolutely not separating marriage from parenthood. Thus, the planned measures will go in this direction. For example, the minimum legal age to get married will be lowered. Today, women can get married at twenty and men at twenty-two, but this limit could drop to eighteen for all. The logic behind this measure? Get married earlier and feel ready to having children just as early.