The China Development Research Foundation is recommending that the country end its one-child policy.
The foundation is instead recommending that a two-child policy be instituted in some provinces by the end of the year and that a two-child policy be made law in 2015. The foundation also proposes that all birth limits be eliminated by 2020.
It is unclear if Chinese leaders are ready to eliminate the policy, which was introduced in 1978 and applied to firstborn children from 1979. The policy limits most urban couples to one child but allows two children for rural families if the firstborn is a girl. Authorities claim the policy has prevented more than 400 million births from 1979 to 2011.
Xie Meng, a press affairs official with the CDRF, said the final version of the foundation’s report will be released within the next two weeks. Advance copies have been given to Chinese state media.
The Xinhua News Agency said, “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.”
While many of China’s youth support ending the policy, the financial burden is causing some to rethink having more children.
Thirty-two-year-old Gong Leilei, who is from Zheijiang, said he and his wife wanted to give their 6-year-old son a little sister.
“I wanted to have a daughter, but my wife does not want her now,” Gong said. “She thinks we should wait until we have more money.”
Liu Jie, a 23-year-old secretary working in Beijing, shared Gong’s sentiment.
“Raising children isn’t easy and I don’t think I’ll have enough money for two children … if I have two, my quality of life would be worse,” she said.
Liu did, however, say the one-child policy should end.
“It’s a great idea,” she said. “It will help to solve some social problems, cultivate children’s character and improve the treatment of the elderly.”
Gu Baochang, a professor at Beijing’s Renmin University, said the country may not be fully prepared to eliminate the 32-year-old policy.
“China has no experience, no understanding, and no preparation for dealing with the new challenges posed by extremely low fertility, serious aging, speeding urbanization and wide spread of population,” he said.
China’s over 60 population is expected to more than double from 185 million to 487 million in 2053. The 52 percent of the population that will be of working age by that point will then have to support not only the 35 percent of the population that is elderly but the 16 percent that will be children as well.
Still others think the one-child policy should remain in place. Chen Chi, a 22-year-old university student in Beijing, worried about the burden of a growing population.
“No, it’s not a good idea to remove the one-child policy,” Chen said. “The population is too high and more and more people will move to urban areas to have children, making the urban-rural population balance even worse.”
President Hu Jintao, who will be on his way out after a change in leadership that starts November 8, said last year that China would keep the policy in place in order to keep the birth rate low. Other Chinese officials have said no changes are expected until at least 2015.
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