The China’s National Health and Family Planning Comission has cited superstitions and folk beliefs as the reason behind a decline in births observed in 2015.
According to NPR, the government cites the old Chinese saying “shi yang jiu bu quan,” which means 9 out of 10 people born in the Year of the Goat will suffer from misfortunes throughout life. It also believes that many mothers have chosen to delay giving birth until the Year of the Monkey, which is seen as an auspicious year to be born in.
Statistics reveal that 16.5 million babies were born in 2015, 320,000 less than in the previous year. The drop in birth rates has alarmed economists who say that China’s shrinking labor force will hold back economic growth.
Over 222 million Chinese citizens are aged 60 years or older and the population of working age citizens (16-59) is declining, posing a serious dilemma for policymakers.
A survey last October revealed that despite the change in policy, over 43% of Chinese couples say they are not interested in having a second child.
In response to the claims by the government that superstition was responsible for the declining birth rates, China Daily published an editorial in which it mocked the somewhat creative excuse offered up.
“Such a creative use of superstition neither helps understand the real demographic challenges nor adds credibility to the estimate for population growth, which is crucial to the design of a functioning social security and healthcare system in the long run,” it read.
By Eugenia Xiao
[Images via AFP // Reuters]