Thursday, February 27, 2014

Many Chinese Couples Say One Child Is Enough — Even Now That They Can Have Two

At the New York Times, "Many in China Can Now Have a Second Child, but Say No":
BEIJING — After three decades of a Chinese policy that limits most families to one child, many families say they will not take advantage of a major change allowing a second child because of the rising cost of child-rearing.

“With two kids you have less money to give them the best,” said Mao Xiaodan, 27, a Beijing lawyer seven weeks into her first pregnancy who has dismissed the prospect of a second child. She said she was concerned about stratospheric housing prices and the high cost of schooling. “My husband’s co-worker has twins,” she said, “and just paying for elementary school has nearly bankrupted him.”

Under the new policy, the most significant overhaul of China’s family planning rules in 30 years, married couples in which just one parent is an only child can also have a second baby. The previous rules allowed two children for couples in which both parents are only children. The old policy also made exceptions for China’s officially recognized ethnic minorities and rural couples whose first child was a girl or disabled.

The government estimates that the change will allow an additional 15 million to 20 million couples to expand their families, helping to stem a plummeting birthrate that experts say has left China with a dangerous demographic imbalance in both age and sex. But only about half of those couples are willing to have two children, according to research by the National Health and Family Planning Commission cited in state news media.

In interviews, many couples blamed the rising cost of living for their reluctance to have more than one child. Some cited a persistent cultural norm that requires husbands to provide an apartment, a car and other material riches to a bride, demands that can push an extended family deep into debt.
The Chinese government should get out of the child regulation business. It's a massive violation of human rights. If families decide they want just one baby, then it's their choice.

More here. (State planners screwed up, by the looks of it. Chinese demographic numbers are so messed up there won't be enough new births to correct the imbalance against young people and women.)