China’s demographic problems continue apace
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China’s demographic problems continue apace

A new survey by one of China’s biggest recruitment firms, Zhaopin.com, has reignited conversation about the demographic problems facing the country over the coming years. Despite Beijing’s attempts to kick-start births in the nation by relaxing the one-child policy and allowing couples to have a second child, few have decided to do so. Zhaopin’s new survey finds that many Chinese women are reluctant not only to expand their family, but to have one at all.

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Around 40% of childless working women would like to remain without children, and roughly two-thirds of those with a child would rather not have a second. In big cities, there is an economic element to this finding: children are expensive, working hours are long, and the cost of living is high.

Three decades of the one-child policy in China has led to acute demographics problems which will see the country struggle to replace its workforce with younger entrants. This poses problems of a struggling social welfare system and a lack of competitiveness in the workplace. The government’s response was to open the door for couples to have a second child in 2015. This move was forecast by officials to results in roughly 4 million more births annually – yet last year, it added just 1.31 million. Now, the government is considering further measures such as “birth rewards and subsides”.

However, these incentives fall far short of those offered by countries like Singapore and Germany, who face similar demographics concerns.

Amongst the top reasons give for the reticence to breed are “not enough time and energy” and “too expensive to raise children”. These are within Beijing’s power to influence, but as time marches onwards, the opportunity is slipping through the government’s fingers.

Disclosure

The views expressed above are those of the author, and should not be construed as representative of Dominion Fund Management Ltd. All information was correct at time of writing. In the case of forward looking statements, these should not be construed as facts.


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