They Now Have The Chance, But Few Chinese Couples Want More Than One Kid

High cost of raising a child is China’s new birth control

For 36 years, China’s family planning policy limited Chinese couples to having just one child. But with the announcement that the policy is to be abolished, Chinese couples are, for the first time, faced with an interesting choice: should they have a second child?

According to data released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning last week, only 10 percent of eligible couples are actually interested in giving their kid a brother or sister.

According to the data, 55,851 of qualified Beijing couples applied to have a second child as of October this year, accounting for just one-tenth of the estimated 550,000 eligible couples. In the country as a whole, 1.45 million couples applied to have a second baby by May of this year, accounting for just 13 percent of all eligible couples, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

At the end of 2013 China introduced a policy allowing couples to have a second child if one of the parents is an only child. A previous version required both parents to be the only children in their families.

However, China’s new, much more expansive, two child policy has not led to a surge in interest for second children. A recent CCTV poll found that 30 percent of parents said they are not willing to have a second child because they don’t have enough money.

Credit Suisse economist, Dong Tao, estimates that the cost of raising a child until adulthood in China is 499,200 yuan, or around 27,700 yuan a year, which doesn’t account for education expenses. “The high cost of raising a child is probably China’s new birth control,” said Dong.

Announced October 29, the end of the one child policy has yet to be ratified by the National People’s Congress, and remains law until such time.

According to Wang Peian, an official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China’s government estimates that with 90 million couples eligible to have two children, births will increase over the next few years, eventually peaking at over 20 million newborns a year.


Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor