Guangdong Wants to Ditch the One Child Policy (Sort Of)

Cam MacMurchy , March 30, 2015 9:15am (updated)

Since the One Child Policy was introduced in 1979, it has been a lightening rod for criticism from people outside of China. It is, in effect, the state controlling one’s reproductive rights (making American concerns on the same seem quaint by comparison). Nonetheless, with a soaring population and limited food supplies, some have argued that the policy may have helped China reach the stage of development it’s at today.

The problem lies in the fact that China now has an army of single children, each with two aging parents. It doesn’t take long to see where this is headed: an expensive and large elderly population with a relatively smaller tax-paying base to support them. That’s why Guangdong Province is asking Beijing to relax the One Child Policy.

Currently, many jurisdictions in China allow two only-children who are married to have more than one child. What Guangdong wants to do is allow a couple to have more than one child if only one of the spouses is an only child. As the South China Morning Post reports (behind a paywall), this would make Guangdong the first province to permit this arrangement and also curb the number of pregnant women who are flocking to Hong Kong in increasing numbers to deliver their babies:

Voices calling on the central government to rethink its population policy have been growing. Many economists are worried that China’s phenomenal economic growth could be slowed down by a rapidly ageing society, a dwindling labour pool and mounting pressure on the social security system.

In an interview published by the province’s official newspaper, Nanfang Daily, Guangdong family planning chief Zhang Feng said the province had tendered an official application to Beijing to run a pilot version of an adjusted one-child policy.

Guangdong’s population reached 104 million last year, surpassing Henan as the nation’s most populous province.

The SCMP also points out that with rising living costs (and soaring inflation), many parents might not choose to have a second child anyway. That would mimic developed countries, where higher education rates and increasing wealth has resulted in a decline in birth rates.