A top government think tank has suggested that China gradually loosen its one child policy to correct population-related imbalances now plaguing its ageing society.
It is one issue that the new generation of leaders in China, who will soon take over the reins of the most populous nation in the world, might have to take a call sooner than later: whether to reverse its one child policy and allow willing Chinese couples to have more than one?Advice is close at hand. The government-affiliated China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) has said if the policy was not reversed then problems in population structure, quality and distribution will become increasingly visible and will have a profound impact on China's future social and economic development.
The report was clear in its message: the time is over for Chinese couple to have one child and gradually over the next three years, by 2015, the government should allow couples to have more than one child.
And by 2020, there will be no need for birth planning at all as citizens will make rational choices on having babies, CDRF added in the report.
“China's population situation is quite different from that of 30 years ago, when a family planning policy that limited the majority of urban families to one child took effect,” the report was quoted by state-run Xinhua as saying.
“The report said the population is heading for negative growth and an ultra-low fertility rate, as well as faces issues related to aging, gender imbalances, urbanisation, an expanding shortage of migrant workers and an only-child generation.”
The world's fertility rate is 2.7, compared to China's 1.5. A fertility rate lower than 1.5 means the next generation will have 30 percent fewer people than the previous one.
Beijing and Shanghai, currently more than 20 million people live in the two cities, possibly have the lowest fertility rates in the world.
The implementation of the policy had reduced the pressure created by a rapidly rising population, made contributions to economic growth and helped improve population quality, it said.
“However, China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” the report said.
The report also pointed out the aging population and the fact that China's "demographic dividend" has already ended will pose a severe challenge for the country's future development.
“This means China cannot rely on an unlimited labor supply for its future economic development, but must instead boost its total factor productivity (TFP),” Cai Fang, director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told state media.