DETROIT, Michigan — After China stopped fines for having multiple children in a family, citizens continue wanting fewer children. While steadily releasing its one-child policy, the Chinese government has noticed a constant decline in its birth rates and rising issues in the communities they are affecting. The continued impact on the community since the policy’s release shows a high concentration of the elderly population and cost of living.
Reluctance to Have Children
As the cost of living in China increases, people born under the one-child policy are refusing to have children. Many women in urban China do not deem having children as affordable. Also, there was a surplus of men in China due to their generation’s parents wanting a male as their only child. Often, households would abort or give up the female baby to get another chance to have a male. As a result, there are now 80 million extra men in China compared to women. Both men and women deem the price of living too high to have children.
In 2020, “12 million babies were born in China.” It is the lowest calculated birthrate in 60 years. The one-child policy was supposed to improve economic growth while controlling the population. However, with both successes, the population continued to have imbalances and is now declining. The older generations in China struggle without family support because of the previously enforced limited number of newborns.
Affecting the Elderly Population
Since the one-child policy has dropped, the Elderly demographic of China has been one of the most affected. One in every four seniors in China lives below the poverty line. Due to the one-child policy, the elderly grew up in a two-parent to a one-child household. With the policy lifted, the new elderly have no one besides their one child to care for them. China describes children as being a social safety net for parents. However, the country has limited the safety net, and now the elderly population is rapidly growing.
More than 20% of the elderly older than 60 live in poverty. The government covers most of the cost of health insurance 90% of the elderly population. However, elderly citizens need more assistance to keep them out of poverty due to the lack of familial support.
In Rural China
China introduced the one-child policy to halt the business of childbearing and to slow down the dramatic population growth. As a result, there have been consistent riots within impoverished rural China because of limited help and resources due to being forced to have only one child. The one-child policy has resulted in aging villages declining in resources. As the Chinese government provides resources for the recently lifted policy, rural communities discern that the damages still harm them. The labor pool for rural China has shrunk and adults have limited youth to take care of them.
The Effort for Change
The result at the end of China’s one-child policy is that there are too many elderly to take care of and too many men. What the country lacks is youth to tend to the elderly, partially due to a drastic decline in births. The Chinese government is trying to combat this with family-based propaganda. However, rural and urban communities show different responses towards the government’s efforts. On the other hand, China has decreased its poverty line since the end of the policy. Now, China must find ways to counteract the poverty and unrest caused by the one-child policy.
– Trever Lloyd