China

China Drops Oppressive One-Child Policy: Too Late to Avoid Demographic Implosion

Reproductive central planning works as badly as economic central planning

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ChinaOneChildPolicy
chinadaily

The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee meeting at its plenary session announced yesteday that the government is changing its 35 year policy of limiting Chinese families to one child. China's communist leaders, however, did not abandon demographic central planning: the new limit is 2 children per family.

As the result of this interference with families' reproductive choices millions of women were forced to have unwanted abortions. Because of a cultural preference for sons, China has in recent years a skewed sex ratio of 117 males for very 100 females. This imbalance of 30 million extra men has led Chinese economist Xie Zuoshi to propose polyandry as the solution, that is, allowing a woman to marry more than one man.

Despite this change in fertility policy, it is not at all likely that most Chinese families are going to take advantage of the new reproductive limit. Why not? Because the trajectory of China's fertility rates mirrors that of neighboring countries. Let's look at some total fertility rates (TFR)—the number of children a woman will have over the course of her life—in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Replacement fertility is generally set at 2.1 children per woman. China's TFR now stands at 1.7 children.

Hong Kong's TFR is 1.1 children; Taiwan's is 1.1; South Korea's is 1.2; Japan's is 1.4; Vietnam's is 1.7; and Thailand's is 1.4 children per woman. Perhaps even more telling is that the TFR for China's biggest city, Shanghai, is now at 0.7 children per woman. This trend toward lower fertility will likely steepen as more Chinese women become educated professionals and overall incomes increase. And keep in mind that in not a single country has the TFR ever risen above replacement once falling below it.

So what is China's demographic future? If China's fertility rate were to remain constant, its population would peak at 1.44 billion in a little over a decade and then fall back to 868 million by 2100. If its TFR were to fall to 1.3 children per woman, Chinese population would peak at 1.4 billion by 2020, and drop to 600 million (more than half) by 2100.

The Chinese Communist Party doubtless shifted its policy as it looked to the future and spied the looming demographic implosion. It turns out the reproductive central planning works as badly as economic central planning.

My colleague Jacob Sullum notes in his 2007 article, "Thank Deng Xiaoping for Little Girls," that one of the (happy for him and his wife) side effects of oppressive communist population central planning is that they were able to adopt their daughter Mei from China.

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    1. Are you saying all these extra Chinese will need jobs and you are stepping up to provide them?!

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      1. No, but they’ll need twice as much time with their families now.

  2. Perhaps they can import some Middle Eastern muslims to save their economy.

  3. As I suggested elsewhere, you might want to find somebody who speaks/reads Chinese (Mandarin, Hanyu, Wu, Cantonese, whatever. The language read and spoken by people who live in China so let’s just go with calling it Chinese you pedantic asshole.) to interpret the policy for you before you go making pronouncements on what the policy is. That 2 child limit may not be a ceiling, it could be a floor.

    1. Abortions for none!

      1. Little red books for everyone!

    2. The Clone Wars Reimagined.

    3. Not just yet. I am waiting to hear if the Leftoids who were all for the one child policy to react with either:

      1. New policy AWESOME and the USA should do it too

      2. Capitalism destroyed the People’s Utopia

      3. Both

  4. China’s communist leaders, however, did not abandon demographic central planning

    Nor have the Germans and multicult governments elsewhere in Europe.

    1. Or in the US.

      1. Oh I certainly agree. I just think the European example is a better hill to fight on because policy is so much more overt and the consequences so much more visible.

        1. Really? What’s not overt about a child tax credit or government schooling? Not to mention the clearly visible consequences of welfare benefits for poor families and single moms?

          I mean, I guess it could always be worse, but we pay people a fuckload of money to reproduce here, and half the D primary is jacking off about paid family leave and free college.

          1. + $350/month/child

          2. Really? What’s not overt about a child tax credit or government schooling? Not to mention the clearly visible consequences of welfare benefits for poor families and single moms?

            I said that it’s more overt and visible in Europe, I didn’t say it was implicit and invisible in the US. Moreover, I think it’s fair to say that Europe is getting worse immigrants than the US does.

            I mean, I guess it could always be worse, but we pay people a fuckload of money to reproduce here, and half the D primary is jacking off about paid family leave and free college.

            And in Europe they’re doing all of that and more including directly inviting people, setting minimum quotas for unwilling national governments, setting up refugee centers in localities that don’t want them and much more indiscriminately handout tax dollars to the newcomers. Everything the US is doing to centrally plan it’s demographics into a third world society, the Europeans are doing on steroids and have been for decades.

            And if you think think the ‘hate crime’ and personal accommodation laws are bad here…

            But I’m really not interested in a debate about whose immigration policies are doing the most harm, it’s hard to argue that anyone has it worse than the European societies that are taking the “multiculturalism” ideology further than anyone.

  5. The policy had a really strange dynamic.
    One of the few times Mao was right about anything was his claim that more people meant more prosperity. But he said it after he’d screwed the economy so badly that it wasn’t true at the time.
    Once the economy was allowed to function again, the poo-bahs left the policy in place.
    I’ll bet they have a new ‘five year plan’ in mind…

    1. There’s always a new five year plan.

      1. You can’t even get rid of the old 5 year plan without a new 5 year plan. You don’t expect the state to surrender some imperium do you?

  6. … the new limit is 2 children per family.

    I think you’re confused by assuming this limit is a ceiling. Now the question is, how will China force families to have at least 2 children? Sounds like an opportunity to export Bill Clinton as the new leader of China.

    1. Santorum.

      Maybe we could get a package deal where he and Pope Mao head to the exotic east to eliminate the scourge of birth control, never to return.

    2. Is there any evidence that this is the case, or are you just blindly speculating?

      1. Its hard to say, of course, but if the Chinese govt goal is to get back to the steady-state of 2.1 kids per chick, then I think they are going to have to do more than just lift the “ceiling”.

        They are probably going to have to incentivize the hell out of having more than one kid. And when it comes to sociopathic totalitarians, “incentives” can get pretty fucking punitive.

        We’ll see, but by no means would I assume that this is mere “deregulation”.

      2. More as a lead-in to the ending joke. But, I’m sure they’ll start incentivizing reproduction as we do here.

  7. It turns out the reproductive central planning works as badly as economic central planning.

    No, no, our demographic models are getting better all the time! This time it will work, just as soon as we cajole people into no longer responding to the incentives we offer in predictable and frustrating ways. Once those chess pieces stop moving themselves, the world will belong to the men of system!

    My colleague Jacob Sullum notes in his 2007 article, “Thank Deng Xiaoping for Little Girls,” that one of the (happy for him and his wife) side effects of oppressive communist population central planning is that they were able to adopt their daughter Mei from China.

    I didn’t know that. Talk about changing a child’s future for the better: from growing up in socialist China to being the child of an Ivy-educated, pot-reviewing, libertarian who chooses to “live” in Texas.

    1. They just need more data.

      Here, fill out this census form.

  8. If two children is the new central plan what happens when the Party bosses start making up numbers? In order to exceed the plan.

    1. Import Vietnamese and Burmese peasants.
      There is already SE Asian migrants (legal and illegal) moving to take the jobs Chinese are unwilling to do.

      1. They could open that border with Korea you know.

  9. You mean the neo-Malthusian population bomb turned out to be a joke, too?

    Have the Malthusians ever been right about anything?

    1. I’ll have you know that Ehrlich appeared on Carson dozens of times and has made millions of dollars educating the public about the dangers of overpopulation and underregulation.

      Now, how many times has Ron Bailey ever chatted with Conan O’Brien and how many books has he sold? Ipso facto, ergo cognitive sum, GED.

  10. Given that the Philippines is … in addition to sitting almost on top of one of the larger, mostly untapped oil reserves on the planet AND the largest known deposit of naturally occurring Deuterium / Heavy Water) … one of the countries with the largest female to male imbalances on earth in the direction of a lot more women than men – thanks to all of their men working overseas (a lot higher percentage of men than women).

    Is it any wonder the Chinese are building stepping-stone military islands up towards their West Coast and trying to drive out the US military?

    1. I really wish the comments section had an “edit” feature so one could go back and fix errors.

  11. An insightful commentary.

    Re: “Because of a cultural preference for sons”

    FYI, here are two of the reasons for that:

    1. China needs men for cannon fodder when necessary.

    2. There is the idea in China that adult children should support their elderly parents. Traditionally, parents depend on their children for support in old age. This support is expected primarily from sons rather than daughters, especially after daughters marry.

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