Amid worries of a demographic imbalance that is shifting China to an older society with more men than women- the result of various sex selection methods with a preference for boys- China allowed married couples where one person in the couple was a single children to have children. The new policy which went into effect in November 2013 has not seemed to have the effect that was intended. In 2012 there were 40 million more men in China then women and the trend does not seem to be changing as there were 18 million more boys then girls under the age of 15. While China hoped that the policy change would help fix the demographic imbalance by allowing families to add a girl to the family and lowering the projected working age the number of people who have taken advantage of the policy change is substantially less than projected.
Among the considerations that have convinced families not to have a second child are rising costs of housing and education. Part of this concern is due to a culture that has emerged after 30 years of China’s one child policy. For decades families put everything into one child and to have to split resources between children would deny them opportunities that help them stay competitive with other children. On top of financial concerns an arduous application process also has dampened enthusiasm to pursue a 2nd child.
Although information regarding data has been difficult to find regarding the number of families who have chosen to have a second child there is a lot of data on how the one child policy has effected Chinese children. The psychological effects of the policy have raised a generation of Chinese children who are more risk adverse and pessimistic furthering worries that China will not have the entrepreneurs it needs in the future.
It is too early to say that the policy has failed to have the effect that has been desires and more provinces are awaiting their turn to be given formal allowance for families to have a second child. However a serious worry if the policy fails is how China will promote higher reproductive rates after decades of indoctrinating a culture of “little emperors”.
Read more here: New York Times on couples foregoing a second child and the New Republic on the “one child” policy