Where have all the young women gone? China’s demographic time bomb

China’s one-child policy is credited with creating an economic boom, but it has had devastating side effects. Here are five reasons why the superpower has abandoned it.

Today China abandoned its one-child policy amid fears that too few children are being born, and there are too few females in the population. So why has it canned a policy that has been in place since 1980?

1. The Chinese population is ageing…

Thirty-five years of birth restrictions mean that its native labour pool is shrinking. That’s a problem that many wealthy economies solve by encouraging immigration but…

2. Immigration to China is very limited…

Other than the ethnic Chinese diaspora, who are offered incentives to return to their ‘homeland’, China is not a pro-immigration nation. And it is failing to breed quickly enough because…

3. There aren’t enough girls…

The one-child policy has led to a dramatic gender imbalance. Boys, partly because they are physically stronger, are seen as having more earning power, particularly in rural communities. This has led to sex selection by termination: many female foetuses are aborted in the hope that the next pregnancy will be male. Not only has this reduced the country’s stock of potential mothers, but it also means that…

4. Millions of Chinese men cannot find partners…

Professor Steve Tsang, professor of contemporary studies at England’s University of Nottingham, estimates that 20-30 million young Chinese males have no chance of finding a life partner because there are too few women in the population. “The gender imbalance is going to be a very major problem,” he told the Guardian. “That creates social problems and that creates a huge number of people who are frustrated.” This is just one of the reasons why…

5. The two-child policy is very popular…

China has been experimenting with loosening the law for the last two years. Since 2013, couples from ethnic minorities or rural areas have been allowed to have two children if their firstborn was a girl. But just because the government has now abandoned the one-child policy, doesn’t mean that the public will immediately ramp up its breeding – as in Western nations, many young women are choosing to have just one child, or no children at all, for cost and lifestyle reasons.

 

 

 

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