While many Chinese parents have expressed their reluctance at having a second child, it appears that China’s new two-child policy is having at least some effect, resulting in the highest birth rate in China since 2000.
China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) announced on Sunday that there were 17.86 million babies born in the country in 2016, a 7.9% increase from the previous year, and a number that’s also greater than the population of the Netherlands.
On January 1st, 2016, China officially ended its controversial, decades-long one-child policy, permitting all couples to have a second child in an attempt to avert demographic disaster and save its working population from the crushing burden of supporting the country’s growing proportion of retirees.
While the policy was met with praise by some, the majority of Chinese parents said they didn’t want to have a second child — reasoning that one child was expensive enough to raise in modern China.
Still, more than 45% of newborns in 2016 were not couple’s first child, according to NHFPC data.
In order to get even more people interested in baby-making, one Chinese mogul has proposed that 15% of China’s GDP should be used to fund families with two children. Meanwhile, last year, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yichang, one of the largest cities in Hubei province, encouraged local Party leaders to set an example, serve the people and have another kid.
Despite the promising data, some are not convinced that the two-child policy is having that significant of an impact. The Wall Street Journal notes that in years past many demographers have concluded that births in China were widely underreported in order for families to avoid fines. So, 2016 baby’s bump may only be true on paper.
According to the government’s logic, it could also be explained through superstition. In 2015, China’s recorded birth rate actually dropped, a fact that the NHFPC blamed on superstitious beliefs relating to the Year of the Goat.
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