China Changing It's One Child Policy?

China's new leaders, President Xi and Premier Li, are rumored to be removing the one child policy by as early as the end of this year according to BoA economist, Ting Lu. If one parent comes from a one child family, that parent will be able to have two children. By as soon as 2015, it might be possible for all families to have two children. Lu is saying that is will be done to help improve China's slowing economy.

This seems like another Hail Mary from China to forestall that their economy will not be able to maintain its current growth and go into recession. China already has an overpopulation problem. How will increasing the population begin to fix things? Before the newborns are old enough to contribute they will be net takers. They would only be an economic drain from resources used and the money taken to educate them and keep them healthy.

Next China has a growing income disparity between the social classes, it makes the United States' income disparity laughable. Most of the population is lower middle class or in poverty. How will an increase in the poverty classes help? There is such a thing called a poverty trap and broad population increases do not help that.

The real problem China has with its population is its population male to female ratio. The male to female ratios according to the World Data Bank are:

  • Age 15 & Under: 1.17
  • Ages 15-64: 1.06
  • Ages 65 & Over: 0.93
  • Current Birth estimates: 1.19

With a quickly aging population and high male to female ratios, this could be the government's plan to help rebalance the population. Having a bunch of guys in their 20s and 30s not having any significant other would make them more likely to leave or cause social unrest. But like in the past where families would leave their newborn daughters at an orphanage so they could try for a son, this would most likely just happen again.

Maybe the Chinese government decided to relax the single child rule because the government does not think that they will be able to enforce the rule any longer and that they are changing it to two children to save face.

I do not see in any way that this will China in any way whatsoever. I bet somehow if Lu's predictions are correct and the population increase is successful the Chinese government will soon have some positive economic spin. Of course I could be wrong and this will all work out magnificently.

Comments (18)

Aug 12, 2013

I don't quite see how this is really supposed to help China, or the world, for that matter. If the world population keeps growing at it's current rate, it's pretty sure that we'll ride this planet against a wall.

Aug 12, 2013

The laws of supply and demand do not change. In the case of China, the literal supply of labor (aka their population) is facing a long term bubble. That they're considering changing the family policy is really, really great news and I'm happy to hear this.

As far as population goes, look at Europe and America where non immigrant populations are actually declining. The progression of population demographics is very predictable and well documented, not unlike the evolution of a growing corporation or city. At some point, the population growth slows to replacement levels as the society develops.

I am going to enjoy watching the malthusians have a conniption.....where IlliniProgrammer? lol

Aug 12, 2013

Isn't China's working-age population projected to slowly decline after 2020? Perhaps they're hoping more babies will spur domestic consumption. Even if this gets implmented, that ugly male-to-female ratio will not going down by much.

Aug 12, 2013
Matrick:

I don't quite see how this is really supposed to help China, or the world, for that matter. If the world population keeps growing at it's current rate, it's pretty sure that we'll ride this planet against a wall.

Not even close. The second derivative of population is currently negative, and it's entirely possible that "peak population" is somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Aug 12, 2013

You clearly know what you're talking about far better than most on this site.

Slightly off-topic, however: how many "Chiner iz gonna esplode, unsistainible!1!!" topics are we going to get here? It seems like 2-3 of these pop up every week, with nobody applying any real quantitative, or even simple economic, analysis to the topic at hand.

China can't enforce the OCP? What signs have you seen of that being the case? And a "hail mary" to stall a recession? Do you think the government is so desperate that they're going to change social policy because they've just absolutely, conclusively run out of any sort of economic tool to fix their "impending doom"?

This is ludicrous. When Chinese people read things like your post, they say, "dumbass foreigners" the same way that we read some stupidly uneducated post about the US or the US economy and go "dumbass Chinese" or "dumbass whoever." At least try to come up with a reasonably well-informed opinion so that we don't all collectively look stupid.

Aug 12, 2013

LOL Chinese people being well informed.....where are they getting their information, off of the carefully scrubbed internet? Off of unfiltered global media? Or their oh so transparent gov't?

.......lulz

It's plainly obvious and has been so for some time:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/20/china...

google "Chinese population bomb" and it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that if too many people in the country gets too old to work, the economy collapses.

Not sure how much more documentation one would need, it just seems kind of self evident.

Aug 12, 2013

You're underestimating what resources are available to them. Go there and see what things are like; you'll quickly see that an educated Chinese person is just as astute as an educated American. They know full well how their country compares to ours.

Also, that wasn't my point. I'm saying that this guy's analysis is based on some really shaky ground.

Aug 12, 2013

I fully agree that people are smart there. What I'm getting at is that they're beginning to see that running a civilization at below replacement level, population wise, is a bad idea. I don't disagree with everything else you're saying.

Aug 12, 2013

There are a lot of loop holes and exceptions to the one child rule. Only people who aren't Chinese / haven't been to China think that most of the population is actually subject to a hard limit of one child. I think it only actually applies to 35-40% of the population. Many are permitted to have a second child if their first child is a daughter, if they are both ethnic minorities, first child is disabled etc.

Aug 12, 2013

long diapers and hello kitties

Aug 13, 2013
NorthSider:
Matrick:

I don't quite see how this is really supposed to help China, or the world, for that matter. If the world population keeps growing at it's current rate, it's pretty sure that we'll ride this planet against a wall.

Not even close. The second derivative of population is currently negative, and it's entirely possible that "peak population" is somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Wow great, the population isn't growing at the same speed it did in the past. Awesome. Now please let me know how reaching peak population is going to be beneficial for anyone?

Aug 13, 2013

Doesn't Japan have a problem with a disproportionately large percentage of their pop being old the older side? Maybe China sees that happening and wants to prevent it.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

Aug 13, 2013
Matrick:
NorthSider:
Matrick:

I don't quite see how this is really supposed to help China, or the world, for that matter. If the world population keeps growing at it's current rate, it's pretty sure that we'll ride this planet against a wall.

Not even close. The second derivative of population is currently negative, and it's entirely possible that "peak population" is somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Wow great, the population isn't growing at the same speed it did in the past. Awesome. Now please let me know how reaching peak population is going to be beneficial for anyone?

I was merely disputing your claim that "we'll ride this planet up against a wall" with population growth.

Aug 14, 2013
NorthSider:
Matrick:
NorthSider:
Matrick:

I don't quite see how this is really supposed to help China, or the world, for that matter. If the world population keeps growing at it's current rate, it's pretty sure that we'll ride this planet against a wall.

Not even close. The second derivative of population is currently negative, and it's entirely possible that "peak population" is somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Wow great, the population isn't growing at the same speed it did in the past. Awesome. Now please let me know how reaching peak population is going to be beneficial for anyone?

I was merely disputing your claim that "we'll ride this planet up against a wall" with population growth.

You do realize that if China "allows" more growth, there will again be an increase in the world population. Regardless of that, the planet is already or at least close to being overpopulated anyway. I am unsure how you can dispute that we will ride the planet against the wall given that we are already doing so.

Aug 13, 2013

China's biggest problem isn't with the lack of cheap labor occurring in the future. China's biggest problem is that they have a screwed-up political system and ruling party who has refused to change anything about the way they rule for 20 years. That's the source of all these bubbles. And when it bursts it's gonna get really ugly and those young poor not-been-able-to-have-sex guys aren't gonna be polite about it.

Aug 14, 2013
Matrick:

You do realize that if China "allows" more growth, there will again be an increase in the world population. Regardless of that, the planet is already or at least close to being overpopulated anyway. I am unsure how you can dispute that we will ride the planet against the wall given that we are already doing so.

I mean, I just find this point patently absurd. By virtually any metric imaginable, the world has never been so prosperous. Natural resources per capita are at all time highs, and no doubt dwarf levels that occurred before the period of this graph:

Food production per capita has skyrocketed, even as the amount of farmland has dwindled:

The rate of population growth has been declining steadily since 1980, despite the fact that China's one child policy applies to only ~35% of the population and has only prevented ~100m births (~1.5% of the world population):

And if we increased population density to - say - the levels of Houston (which is not very dense, mind you), we could fit the entire world population in ~half the US:

At New York levels, everyone would fit in Texas:

All of this has to do with the fact that the global standard of living has been steadily rising for the past 150 years. As global poverty has been reduced, the number of people relying on their own sweat and tears for survival has dwindled and child mortality has declined. More prosperous countries tend to have fewer children per family, and that is the reason why population growth has been slowing and will only continue to do so for the next 50 years.

We are NOT running this planet up against a wall.

Aug 14, 2013
NorthSider:

We are NOT running this planet up against a wall.

This. People have been claiming the world will run out of resources for many decades and will continue to be wrong.

Aug 14, 2013
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