Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Long, Futile Horizontal March

China has decided to end their one-child policy that largely limited parents to one child. There were some exceptions for minorities all along, I believe. But this won't solve China's demographic problem.

How many little princes will get a brother or sister?

China will ease family planning restrictions to allow all couples to have two children after decades of a strict one-child policy, the ruling Communist Party said on Thursday, a move aimed at alleviating demographic strains on the economy.

But will this work, when an earlier loosening of the rule changed little?

Under the 2013 reform, couples in which one parent is an only child were allowed to have a second child.

Critics said the relaxation of rules was too little, too late to redress substantial negative effects of the one-child policy on the economy and society.

Many couples who were allowed to have another child under the 2013 rules decided not to, especially in the cities, citing the cost of bringing up children in an increasingly expensive country.

State media said in January that about 30,000 families in Beijing, just 6.7 percent of those eligible, applied to have a second child.

I was skeptical that lifting the limit would do any good:

Eliminating the one-child policy would not cause a dramatic rise in population growth, although it would help out fifteen years down the line. Societal changes would keep the birth rate from shooting up. Worldwide birth rates are dropping dramatically without one-child policies, after all.

So this will help China at the margins. It would have to. Some people will take advantage of the official permission if they didn't want to violate the law before (or find a way around it).

In the short term, China can't avoid the problems that the one-child policy has created (tip to Instapundit):

“China not only has dimmer economic prospects and a lot of grievances, but they now have a highly masculine young adult population,” Hudson said. “For the Chinese government, this is going to be a tiger ride for a long time.”

And the long-range demographic problem for China and their rise to global dominance is likely to continue.