From the New York Times:
In Shanghai, Easing of One-Child Rule Isn’t Seen as Cure for Challenges Ahead
… strict family planning policies that long restricted many urban couples to one child were put in place in the late 1970s in response to a surge in births that started in the 1950s. Couples who violated the birth limits could face fines and even forced abortions or sterilization. An exemption allowing a second child for couples who were themselves only children came into effect in 1984. The government decided to ease this further in late 2013, saying that localities could permit couples where only one partner was an only child to have a second baby.
As Shanghai and other cities loosened the rules for their residents, some braced for a baby boom. But far fewer eligible couples than expected have taken advantage of the new policy, giving rise to a different set of worries, and to Shanghai’s appeal.
… so far, only 5 percent have applied for permission to do so …
The newspaper said that the high cost of raising and educating a child and the fact that many young couples were struggling to juggle career and family had deterred them from becoming parents. Shanghai’s living costs are among the highest in China.
“Many in China, especially government officials, had a blind belief that China’s (and Shanghai’s) low fertility was mainly a result of the one-child policy,” Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who specializes in Chinese demography, said in an email. “More and more have come to realize that China’s low fertility goes together with other social revolutions happening inside Chinese families and society.” …
He Yafu, an independent demographer, highlighted the fiscal dangers ahead. “Shanghai’s local population has been shrinking and is rapidly aging. Fewer young people means fewer payers to social welfare funds,” he said, adding that Shanghai “will struggle to make ends meet in its social welfare and pension funds.” He said that the city was increasingly relying on tax revenues from the migrant population to keep its social welfare system from collapsing.
But demographers warn that simply easing the family-planning policy will not be the magic bullet to bring an immediate turnaround in the birth rate and solve the aging crisis. Read more »