During the Chinese Famine of 1958-1961 the total number of births in the country never dropped below 10,000,000. The total number of births in China is the same, even though the population has doubled. The Chinese Communist Party, in response to a rapidly ageing and shrinking population, is actively encouraging Chinese women have an average of 3 babies. This benchmark has been raised for the second consecutive year since the end of the one-child rule.
The fertility rate is at its lowest level in two years after the three-child policy was implemented. The Chinese Communist Party Family Planning Association may have chosen to enforce the policy in a way that relies more on art, education and gimmicks than financial incentives. As a way to shape the cultural imagination, a local government outside Beijing installed two statues of families with three children and two parents. Party officials are encouraging fathers in the lives of their children to be more involved. As a way to encourage domesticity, they also give away free water bottles and rice cookers to young women and mothers who attend family-friendly conferences.
It hasn’t been enough, at least not immediately. The country does not have the time to solve problems with free wonton wrappings and three-kid TV shows. In 2016, when the CCP ended the one-child rule, the total number of births in the country was around 18 million. In less than a decade, the total births are about half that amount, and the fertility rate is well below replacement rates.
In late 2015, China reversed its one-child policy to boost the economy. Wang Pei’an is the head of the Family Planning Association. He assured the public that China wouldn’t face a shortage of population “in 100-years.” But the real problem was and still is a shortage of youth. Demographers have predicted by 2050 one out of every three Chinese people will be older than 60. This means there won’t be enough Chinese of working age to support the population. Wang Pei’an advocated just two children for each couple. Chairman Xi Jinping said this would increase the economy by seven percent per year.
Instead, has continued to plummet . The total fertility rate of the nation, which is defined as how many children a woman will have in her lifetime, has fallen to 1.33. This number is considered “lowest lowest”. Wang now defends three babies as fiercely as he did in the past the one-child rule.
It is not difficult to understand why this has happened. China’s culture has been expected to change on a dime after nearly four decades with high abortion rates. Some of these were forced upon women, including those without children, such as the “Hundred Days No Child campaign. Women raised as singletons, with no siblings among their peers, and parents who likely did not have any, suddenly find themselves expected to redefine what they consider normal. For these women, the thought of having three children is just plain strange.
The new normal has affected both family size and family structure. For decades, Chinese women were encouraged to delay childbearing in order to advance their careers. Many have followed this advice. Their choice has led to a sharp drop in wedding rates. This is a major factor in total fertility.
Financial and biological barriers are also important. Multiple abortions may have led to Chinese women being unable to conceive. Some are too old. are still struggling with finding a job. For them, the cost of raising children is not desirable. The benefits of having more children won’t be realized until real life factors are changed.
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The fertility rate in the United States is not as bad as it seems. The United States’ total fertility is, however, well below replacement rates. It is unlikely that the rates will rise above these levels without a significant cultural event. In 2021, at the time of the most recent census, the average family size was 3.13, which is two parents and one child.
The numbers are worse because they are not enforced by the state, as in China. We share the same cultural attitudes toward childbearing, family size and career as the Chinese. However, because we have made our own choices for at least as long as the CCP has enforced its one-child policy, it may be even more deeply embedded in the American psyche. American women also show that even small changes in attitudes towards birth and family size don’t necessarily and definitely not instantly lead to an increase in fertility. The difference between the number of kids American women want and the actual number is the largest in the last 40 years. No amount of rice cookers can change this, and not even overnight.
Incentives could go much further. In either case, the best thing to do is to keep doing nothing.