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Possibility of adopting 'two-child policy' in China

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CNTV, July 12, 2012
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The debate on the proposal of a 'two-child' policy started years ago. [File photo]

The debate on the proposal of a "two-child" policy started years ago. [File photo]

Authorities have claimed that the one-child policy has prevented more than 400 million births since it was first implemented in 1979. But other voices stress that the policy will cause labor shortages, and problems associated with a rapidly aging population in the near future.

Now for more on the issue, we are joined in the studio by my colleague Wu Haojun.

Q1: Tell us more about the current debate on the possibility of loosening the current family planning policies, and more specifically the proposal of a so called "two-child” policy.

A1: Well, the debate started years ago but reached fever pitch last year during the CPPCC session. Wang Yuqing, a deputy director of the Committee of Population, Resources and Environment, was cited as saying that he personally favored a gradual introduction of a two-child policy. Reports then followed, saying that three researchers with the State Council had reached a similar conclusion following thorough studies. One of the main thoughts is, of course, that China is an increasingly aging society. Current family planning policies allow only couples from a few select groups to have a second child, for example if they are ethnic minorities or if they are both single children themselves. And people who support loosening the current policy hope this will help ease the aging problem.

Q2: You mentioned the aging problem in China, just how serious is it and what kind of impact is it having on Chinese society?

A2: Well to answer your question, we'll first have to look at the concept of the Dependency Ratio. It's basically a ratio of ages typically not in the labor force, compared to those who typically are. Now let's see how this helps us understand China's aging problem. Official data show the country's Dependency Ratio plummeted from 78% in 1973 to 38% in 2010. That was all good news for China because it meant that during the past 3 decades the country was seeing a rising workforce with a decreasing number of elderly and children to support. However, now problems are emerging as time passes by and the former workers are growing old. According to a report by the Swiss-based financial services company UBS, the dependency ratio in China is expected to reach 40% by 2020, and 45% by 2030. What do these numbers mean for China's future and especially for the elderly.

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