China’s universal second-child policy implemented early 2016 was a major factor in raising the number of births in China to 17.86 million last year, an increase of 7.9 percent and the highest annual number since since 2000, according to the top health authority.
The number of newborns has increased by 1.31 million compared with 2015.
The portion of the births to couples who already had at least one child rose quickly to at least 45 percent last year, Yang Wenzhuang, a division director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a news conference on Sunday. The proportion was around 30 percent before 2013.
“It demonstrates that the universal second-child policy came in time and worked effectively,” Yang said.
“Some regions, mostly large cities in eastern areas, began recording second children as comprising more than half of local newborns,” he added.
Yang expected that by 2020, the number of new births each year would stand between 17 to 20 million in China, citing expert estimations.
Last week, Ma Xiaowei, deputy director of the commission, said a baby boom triggered largely by the new policy probably would come within the next two years.
For that, the commission plans to add 140,000 more maternity health workers in the coming years, he said.
Like many countries with a low birth rate, China was concerned about how to care for its aging population, as there were a dearth of young worker to help support them, as well as a gross gender imbalance, because so many female babies were abandoned or aborted in the patriarchal society.
Experts warned the “Two Child” policy was “too little, too late” to reverse the trend.
The NHFPC claims, however, that their data proves otherwise.
In their press release, the NHFPC said that “by 2050, the policy is expected to bring about an extra 30 million working-age people and reduce the nation’s aging rate by 2 percent, commission projections show.”
However, the NHFPC said the Communist Party’s leaders need to come up with better policies to support couples willing to have more than one child, “particularly in terms of maternity education and health services.”
The number of workers aged 16 to 59 dropped by a record 4.87 million to 911 million last year, compared to decline of 3.71 million in 2014, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
China has the world’s largest population, with 1.37 billion people, but the country is aging and birth rates are declining. The United Nations projects that the number of Chinese over the age of 65 will jump 85% to 243 million, in 2030, up from 131 million this year. Most couples say it’s too expensive to have more children.
The number of working age people in China is set to fall to 700 million by 2050 – a decline of nearly a quarter, according to a government spokesman. The working-age population has been in decline since 2012, with the number of people aged 16-59 predicted to be 830 million in 2030. Maintaining China’s workforce in 2050 would require adding 150 million more than the expected 50 million from the two-child policy.
No restrictions and baby friendly financial policies
If population policies in China boost childbirths (no child limits and family and baby friendly financial incentives) from 15 million to 23 million for the next 20 years then the China would have 160 million more working-age people in 2050.
Other ways to deal with the shrinking working-age populations would be to increase retirement ages from 64 to say 74. This would keep the working-age population stable in the face of 15% drop in overall population in the 15-64 range.
China also has a lower number of people in the urban areas in more productive jobs today. China is also boosting its more productive college-educated workforce.
The overall economic impact would be affected by
* how many working-age population
* when do people retired
* how urbanized – China will go from 50% to 70-80% in 2050
* how educated and productive is the workforce
* how much automation and efficiency is there
Lancet analysis of two child policy
In October, 2015, China’s one-child policy was replaced by a universal two-child policy. The effects of the new policy are inevitably speculative, but predictions can be made based on recent trends. The population increase will be relatively small, peaking at 1·45 billion in 2029 (compared with a peak of 1·4 billion in 2023 if the one-child policy continued). The new policy will allow almost all Chinese people to have their preferred number of children. The benefits of the new policy include: a large reduction in abortions of unapproved pregnancies, virtual elimination of the problem of unregistered children, and a more normal sex ratio. All of these effects should improve health outcomes. Effects of the new policy on the shrinking workforce and rapid population ageing will not be evident for two decades. In the meantime, more sound policy actions are needed to meet the social, health, and care needs of the elderly population.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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