Chinese fertility rate drops into ‘low fertility trap’

World Today

Experts warn that the birthrate in China is moving toward a dangerously low level. Some argue China needs to adopt more aggresive family planning policy to tackle the low fertility rate. CCTV’s Wu Guoxiu reported this story from Beijing.

Chinese fertility rate drops into \'low fertility trap\'

Experts warn that the birthrate in China is moving toward a dangerously low level. Some argue China needs to adopt more aggresive family planning policy to tackle the low fertility rate. CCTV's Wu Guoxiu reported this story from Beijing.

The world’s most populous country has a dangerously low birth rate. A recent report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also known as CASS, says the fertility rate in China is now 1.4 children per woman, close to the global warning line of 1.3, or the “low fertility trap.”
The academy’s report warns that no country has ever returned to replacement level after it has slipped into the low fertility trap.

“In the future we will have a labor shortage and labor aging, this is what definitely will happen,” CASS Institute of Population and Labor Economics professor Zheng Zhenzhen said. “For the developed countries we observed, their response to that is introducing immigrants. However for China, we have such a large population, I don’t think any country can fill this large hole when we need more labor force, so we can only solve this problem by ourselves.”

For over 30 years, China only allowed each couple to have one child. In 2013, it started to allow couples to have a second child if either is an only child, but few couples chose to do so.

Official figures show of 11 million couples eligible for a second child, as of September, only 800,000, 7 percent had applied.

“According to our research, more money is not enough. They need to have more time and stable job, especially for the mother,” Zhenzhen said. “For example, government staff, state-run enterprise staff, university professors and staff, they have a relatively stable job that’s less competitive. On the other side, a lot of women working in highly-competitive jobs and are less likely to have a second child.”

Academy experts are calling on the government to fully lift all restrictions on a second child and adjustments to the family planning policy.

“Maybe if we remove the birth-control policy, there will be more birth in a couple of years,” Zhenzhen said. “It looks like a disadvantage in a short time, but it will make the population more balanced in the age structure in the long run, so it will benefit our economic development.”