For a population, there exists objectively the question of what rate of reproduction is more rational and better conforms to requirements of sustainable development.
First, controlling population growth is a basic principle for population sustainable development in China. China is the most populous country in the world. The country has had great success since the 1970s in controlling the growth of its population, but because of its huge population base, even a reduced growth rate means the addition of a sizeable number of people. Overseas forecasts show that not until 2040-2050 when its population reaches 1.5-1.6 billion will China achieve zero population growth. That is to say, in the next 40 years or so, China’s population will grow by another 300 million or so. For a country with an excessively big population, relatively inadequate resources and a relatively underdeveloped economy, population sustainable development requires first of all a continued control of the population size and achievement of zero population growth as soon as possible.
Viewed from the relationship among the control, quality improvement and adjustment of the population, size control is also the key to achieving quality improvement and structural adjustment. If population size is well controlled, the proportion of newborns and under-age people in the total population will drop. This will reduce consumption and increase accumulation, which in turn will accelerate economic development and the development of education, public health and social security undertakings. All these will directly promote the improvement of the population’s educational and physical qualities, accelerate urbanization and allow the country to better cope with a period when the aging of its population becomes very serious. For parents, having fewer children is conducive to the improvement of their own quality; and their children will have more development opportunities. To ensure that effective population control continue, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in March 2000 made a decision on strengthening population and family planning work to maintain a low birth rate. The decision emphasizes that only by maintaining a low birth rate can China have a good solution for its population problem and lay a foundation for achieving population sustainable development.
Second, improving population quality and adjusting population structure is a component part of achieving population sustainable development. Population quality improvement and an appropriate adjustment of population structure can exert a positive influence over population size control and is a guarantee for maintaining a low birth rate. A survey of the history of population and educational development proves a rule: that the lower the educational level of a population, the greater the birth rate, as is true in remote, backward villages at present; and vice versa, as is true in big and medium- sized cities and some villages along the east coast where education is relatively more developed. On population structure, reproduction ability is closely related with population structure. An appropriate aging level of a population is a necessary stage for zero population growth. Birth rates differ distinctly between urban and rural areas and from region to region. Raising the rate of population urbanization and adjusting population regional distribution is conducive to a drop in the birth rate. Implementing a population policy that emphasizes a combination of “control, quality improvement and adjustment” involves a series of economic and social spheres such as production, livelihood, education and culture as well as all departments for which population changes have a relevance. It, therefore, requires cooperation and unremitting efforts of all relevant departments for China to achieve population sustainable development.