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Title: China's Sharply Declining Fertility: Implications for Its Population Policy
Authors: Wong, John
Keywords: total fertility rate (TFR);fertility transition;replacement fertility;aging population;one-child policy
Date: 2001-05
Issue Date: 2016-10-14 09:42:04 (UTC+8)
Abstract: On March 28, 2001, China’s fifth national census (conducted in November 2000) reported a total population of 1.265 billion, with an average annual growth rate of 1.07 percent since the last census in 1990. This figure is 0.4 percentage points lower than the annual growth rate for the 1980-90 period. Being attributed this decline to the successful implementation of the government’s one-child policy (OCP). Having undergone two successful fertility transitions, China’s total fertility rate (TFR)-the average number of children born alive to a woman-was around 1.8 by the early 1990s. The most critical issue is whether China has also undergone a third fertility transition since the late 1990s-from below-replacement fertility to a substantially lower level. Chinese demographers, and perhaps even the Chinese government, are not in total agreement among themselves over the actual TFR level. The goal of this research is to estimate China’s current TFR. This paper finds that the figure could well stand at 1.7, and may be moving toward 1.6. While this sharp fall infertility may well be the single most significant socioeconomic achievement for China in the first quarter of this century, there is the possibility of the government’s OCP overshooting its targets. Thus the paper argues that sooner or later Beijing will be forced to drop the unpopular OCP a policy which has outlived its usefulness amidst the thrust of radical social and economic transformation of China today. Looking at the experiences of other East Asian societies, we find that when fertility has declined to a very low level and is a product of the social and economic life of the people, even the subsequent adoption of pro-natal policy by their governments is ineffective in reversing such declining trends. Such examples may be a valuable lesson for Beijing.
Relation: Issues & Studies,37(3),68-86
Data Type: article
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