China to stick to family planning policy

08:23, September 26, 2010      

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China's one-child policy has proved to be efficient for population control and economic development, despite concerns over gender imbalance and an aging population as a result of the 30-year-old program, demographers said Saturday.

However, a senior official of South China's Guangdong Province, bordering Hong Kong, said that the province will allow its couples to give birth to two children by the year of 2030, when China's total population is expected to decline.

On September 25, 1980, the Communist Party of China Central Committee issued an open letter calling for CPC and Communist Youth League members to have only one child in a bid to keep the population below 1.2 billion by 2000 and to improve Chinese people's livelihood.

According to official statistics, the country's population reached 1.33 billion by the end of last year. If the birth rate had remained at the 1970s levels, the population would have reached 1.7 billion now.

Three decades since the family planning policy was implemented, 400 million births have been prevented, contributing to an 8.6 percent increase in China's per capita GDP.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang said earlier this week that China would stick to its national family planning policy and advance the balanced development of the population in the long term.

However, Zhang Feng, director of Guangdong provincial population and family planning commission, said his province will relax the one-child policy. "Guangdong will gradually allow qualified couples - with either the husband or wife being the only child - to have a second child after 2020. And all couples in the province will be allowed to have a second child starting 2030," Zhang was quoted by the Southern Metropolis Daily as saying.

A smaller population also means more educational opportunities.

Statistics show that, up to age 15, people receive an average of 8.5 years of schooling in China, above average for developing countries, while the number of people in poverty has been reduced from 250 million to 40 million.

However, Wu Yaowu, a senior researcher specializing in population economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Beijing-based Global Times that the population decline may slow down the country's GDP growth in the future.

"Population is a kind of capital. With an insufficient workforce, economic growth will slow down," Wu said.

Yao Yuan, a professor specializing in demographics and the aging society at Renmin University, told the Global Times that a society aging sooner than expected and the imbalance in gender are two major problems caused by the one-child policy.

A population-control policy isn't enough to face the challenges of an aging society, he said.

"The parents of an only child should rely on social welfare and insurance when they grow old," Yao said.

"Combining population control with the social security system is necessary in order to face the challenge of an aging society."

China's elderly population is growing. The Office of the China National Committee on Aging says the number of people aged 60 or above stood at 167 million in 2009, or 12.5 percent of the 1.3 billion people.

Yang Yansui, director of the Research Center of Employment and Social Security at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the social welfare and security system should serve as a tool to help adjust the population structure in order to meet the need for a healthy population so as to remain in line with global competition.

She also called for maternity insurance to be included in the social welfare system.

"The government should not only control population through forced measures but set a framework for population development, such as determining which sector of society should be encouraged to have more children and when is the best time to have a child," Yan said.

But not all Chinese couples want to have children, as more and more 'dual income, no kids' families emerge.

People's Daily Online / Global Times

(Editor:梁军)

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