Expert: Time to adjust family planning policy

By Yang Lin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 16, 2011
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Inverted pyramid [By Jiao Haiyang/]

Inverted pyramid  [By Jiao Haiyang/] 

Editor's note: China has been an aging society since 1999. An NPC Standing Committee report on the enforcement of the Elderly Protection Act contained a lot of data on how the government has responded to the growing aging population, while China's family planning policy has come under an international spotlight. Outlook Weekly recently interviewed Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the Social and Demographical School at Renmin University, on China's family planning policy.

OW: What is your opinion on recent calls to adjust China's family planning policy?

Zhai: Population change in China is not simply counting problems. It's very complex. It should be noted, along with economic and social development, the aging process is inevitable with the decline in birth rate. China has intervened to quicken the decline in fertility rates through family planning. Therefore, China is now also facing a more rapid aging population.

Meanwhile, the family planning policy is not static. It needs to be adjusted according to economic and social development. As China's aging population growth accelerates, the conditions have become ripe for family planning policy adjustments.

Adjusting family planning policy can ease the aging process. It is conducive to the integrity and optimization of the family structure. It will also help improve the sex ratio imbalance and respect the wishes of some families to have more children. Therefore, I suggest we start now to improve the family planning policy. However, the adjustment must not be done in one stroke. It has to be carried out step by step. There should be a transition.

OW: You mean the time for adjustment has come? What do you think should be considered in making the adjustment?

Zhai: The 12th Five-Year Plan has stated that China will do a "good" job in population and family planning work and that it will continue to maintain a low birth rate. The intent and direction of the adjustment has been made clear.

While adjusting the family planning policy, we should take into consideration the following factors. First, through 30 years of practicing family planning policy, China's population has been effectively controlled, so there is room for adjustment. Second, we should make an adjustment in case the structural problems of China's population become more serious. Third, the adjustment must not be done in one stroke. It has to be carried out step by step to avoid sudden changes in population.

OW: Compared to 30 years ago, do you think China's resources can support so many people?

Zhai: The carrying capacity is a variable. During the past 30 years, with the improvement in land efficiency and food production, China's carrying capacity improved a lot. Compared to 30 years ago, China now has 1.3 billion people with better living standards, which proves that the ability to support has improved continuously.

At the same time, we also imported large quantities of foreign resources, such as oil, steel, fertilizers. We have also paid a certain price for the development. In recent years, food safety issues have become more and more prominent.

In this regard, after reaching a peak population of 1.5 billion, China should let its population decline gradually. It will not only reduce pressure on the environment and economic development but also improve people's living standards.

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