Chinese parliamentarians are calling for controversial family planning rules to be revised or even removed, and radical measures must be taken to “liberate fertility” and reverse the decline in births and rapidly reduced workforce.
With the aging of the population due to rising life expectancy and fewer children, the most populous country in the world decided in 2016 to have all couples with a second child, leaving the harsh policy of the only child being implemented since 1978.
But the birth rate fell for the second consecutive year last year. Policymakers are now worried about the impact of prolonged fall in the birthrate will have on the economy and on the social and health benefits. In proposals submitted to the National People’s Congress, representatives from across the nation urged leaders to perk up health and maternity remunerations, offer more free public education, and secure tax cuts. Some went further, saying that China should forget to try to control births and even get rid of any reference linked to family planning from its constitution.
“Continued fertility control unavoidably goes further than its goal and obstructs the solution of inherent population issues,” Li Bingji, a representative from Guangdong Province, said in a statement calling the population to be on top priority in the coming years for four decades.
The number of live births per 1,000 population has dropped to 10.94 by 2018, according to official data, less than a third of the 1949 level. Liaoning, located in the northeast, which has seen its population drastically declined in recent years, has a birth rate of 6.49 per thousand.
“Virtually no country in the world has managed to raise birth rates long after the scale of maternalization has been reduced due to modernization,” Greenhalgh said.