Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China 70 years ago, so few children have ever been born like last year. The abolition of the controversial one-child policy does not lead to more births.
Many young people cannot afford a large family. The low birth rate represents a significant challenge for the Chinese government in the long term.
Until five years ago, most Chinese families were only allowed one child from the government. Those who had a second child had to pay a fine, could lose their job or be even forced to have an abortion. But the abolition of the controversial one-child policy is bearing little fruit for the time being.
The number of births has fallen in recent years. Last year, 14.56 million babies were born in China, which is 580,000 children fewer than a year earlier. Out of a thousand Chinese, there were 10.48 births, the lowest number since 1948.
Many young couples in China cannot afford children. They cannot provide health insurance and training, in addition to high housing prices. The abolition of the one-child policy was not accompanied by measures to support families – such as higher child allowance or more parental leave.
Despite the lower birth rate, the population has grown because fewer people have died. There are now around 1.4 billion Chinese.
If fewer children are born, there is the danger of an ever-ageing population. A smaller working populace will have to support a larger retired community.