Demographic Drop in China Explained by Difficulty to Reconcile Work and Family
**China Declining Population First in Decades Affects Economic Growth **
China’s population dropped for the first time in more than six decades in 2022, the country’s health authorities announced Tuesday. It is currently 1,411.75 million, a figure that experts fear will hurt long-term economic growth and strain public coffers.
The main reason for this drastic decrease is the difficulty balancing work and children’s education in a highly competitive society with limited State aid. Families explain to the press that the job market’s high demands and their ambition to provide their kids with their best future both contribute to their decisions not to have more children.
The Chinese government has attempted to aid this population drop by providing new parents with a few hundred yuan in monthly aid, as well as baby check-ups for each birth. But many find this aid “insubstantial” as most households cannot afford to raise a child with the financial strain of the pandemic.
The country had eased its one-child policy in 2016, and more recently allowed up to three children per couple. Although larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have extended maternity leave and health authorities issued instructions to provide child care services, they still demand a fee, which can cost up to 20,000 yuan ($2,950) a month in Beijing. Also, unmarried women are still unable to freeze their eggs, and there is the absence of breastfeeding spaces in most offices, among other issues.
The importance of family support cannot be understated as well. Even though most urban youth are far from their extended families, they rely on this support to take long hours of work while providing youngster’s education. For Nancy, a working mother in her 30s from Beijing, balancing work and taking care of her son is an impossible feat.
But more than the economic hardship, there’s a form of social discipline when it comes to raising toddlers that affects the decision to have more children. “If you have lower standards, you probably aren’t as married”, Nancy notes, referring to the pressure of raising children meticulously. For example, like Nancy, Ivy Meng in her 30s had to have her son raised by his grandparents during the pandemic as she and her husband had to stick to their jobs, showing that husbands don’t share the responsibility either.
In the end, China’s declining population can be attributed to the difficulties of reconciling societal demands such as a steady work and an ideal education with limited job market aid and indifferent husband aid. This phenomenon threatens China’s economic growth and strains their public coffers, and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.