After strictly enforcing for nearly four decades a one-child policy, Chi’s Communist government has now jettisoned it in the light of difficult economic realities. It is faced with what economists call a ‘negative demographic dividend’ — an aging population, a shrinking workforce, and severe gender inequality with couples preferring boys over girls. Back in the late Seventies, Beijing allowed couples to have only one child in its drive to put the brakes on population growth. Couples flouting the draconian family planning laws were fined, lost ration cards and other government benefits, fired from their jobs, with mothers in some extreme cases forced to abort their babies or be sterilised. But misgivings have been growing over this policy — especially after 2012, when Chi’s working age population fell for the first time in decades. Many economists have warned that Chi may end up as the first country in the world ‘to get old before it gets rich’. While Chi still remains the world’s most populous tion, it has done much to lift millions of its citizens from extreme poverty since the year 2000. On Thursday, the Communist Party after its four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the country’s economic course over the next five years, announced that it will allow all couples to have two children. However, critics are saying that this relaxation may be too little, and may have come too late to redress the damage wrought by the one-child policy on Chinese economy and society.
Chi's birth policy