Beijing decided to significantly scale back the one-child policy in November last year. Leading Chinese demographers, such as Cai Fang from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predict the policy change would lead to a significant improvement in the country’s terribly low fertility rate. Cai believes the birth rate will bounce back to 2.4 if the change in one-child policy is implemented immediately. Even a gradual implementation would lead to a much healthier figure of 1.8, according to his interview with Caixin.
However, the reality on the ground is much less optimistic than what scholars are predicting. For example, Zhejiang province has a population of 54 million people, with a birth rate of 1.02, and it is one of the first local governments to scale back the draconian one-child policy.
If Cai’s prediction is right, there should be 360,000 new babies born in the province this year. However, only 27,549 eligible couples applied for approvals to have a second child by March 31, according to Caixin. In Jiangxi, a province of 45 million people, only 3,477 eligible couples applied to have another baby, according to Jiangxi Daily.
The lukewarm response to the change in policy shows that the government has significantly overestimated peoples’ willingness to bear more children. The early data is particularly concerning given that people are expecting more couples to apply for permission to have more children in the first few months after the change in policy.
NBF – China will have to completely remove all restrictions against children and flip to a Singapore incentives program for couples to have more children.
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