China's population growth

This sad article got me thinking about something that’s been bugging me for years.

China’s official population control policy, which the article implies is still in place, is that couples are not allowed to have more than one child. This is relaxed somewhat in rural areas, where a couple is allowed a second child if the first is a girl. I’m not going to debate the pros or cons of this; I am neither Chinese nor have I ever been to China (although I was in Kai Tak Airport once in 1970, at the ripe old age of 0, while Hong Kong was still “British”).

Even allowing the more relaxed rule for everyone, that means an average of 1.5 children per couple, max. Should the population in China not be going down? The above article predicts that China’s population will be 1.6 billion in 50 years, which is quite a bit more than it is today. How strongly is the policy enforced (clearly not perfectly)? Or is there a massive influx of immigrants to China? What are the penalties for having a second or third child?

People living longer? Lower death rates due to modern medicine? These are just guesses, I have no idea.

I don’t know about China specifically, but…

You can have a situation where the average number of children born per couple is less then 2 (less then replacement rate), yet the population keeps growing. This happens when the population has “bulge” of people in their prime childbearing years, due to high birth rates in the prev. generation.

going along with what hazel wrote, you must also note that the “bulge” will all die off in about 50-60 years and then there will be a population drop. the prediction could well be correct that in 50 years the population will have grown, but then a whole crap load of people will die, and everything will be fine. That is of course barring the good possibility of a large epidemic aided by the overpopulation.

just my thoughts though…

as for what the penalties are, i beleive i heard that if you have only one child, their education is paid for by the government, but with a second or third, it’s on your tab, sending you into incredible poverty. I think there’s other penalties aswell but i can’t remember them offhand.

FWIW infoplease.com gives birth rates as 14.3 for the US and 16.1 for China so they are pretty close. Note that both Italy and Spain with 9.1 have diminishing populations. So much for the stereotype that Catholics have big families.

The one child policy is still strictly enforced in the major cities. For example, you must first register at the family planning clinic in your neighborhood and be approved before a doctor will see you.

However, in a lot of places the one child policy is ignored or theyhave a modified policy that if the first baby is a girl you can have a second one. For example, the city of Qingdao (Tsingtao) has this policy.

There is no universal policy in all of China or perhaps it is better to say that there is no universal enforcement. Used to be that you would get fined for the second kid, but the fine varied between USD120-1,200, which to the Chinese middle class is very affordable.

My sister-n-law had a maid from the Anhui countryside with 3 kids. Fined for the second kid and her house was torn down for the third.

It may sound draconian but I really support the one child policy. You just have no concept of how many people there are until you travel in the Chinese countryside. Really, China does not have the luxury of most other countries, they either do something about population growth or rapidly outgrow the ability to support the population, and that will be a global problem. Moral considerations aside, China has to do something. One child is at least fair.

Except that the policy is completely useless. India, which has no such policy, had a birthrate drop almost exactly the same as China’s. And so has the rest of the 3rd world.

>> It may sound draconian but I really support the one child policy

Yeah, Communist dictatorships are great aren’t they? :rolleyes

If you are saying there are too many people in this world already (not only in China but in the world) I happen to agree with you. But the solution is not a dictatorship which takes away people’s freedom. Developed countries and cultures find ways to achieve desirable goals without need to resort to that kind of coercion.

Not to mention that not too long ago the Chinese government had the exact opposite policy and encouraged their people to breed like rabbits. Not only a dictatorship but one with bipolar disorder.

The point is not whether a particular policy is good or bad, the point is whether the state should have such absolute control over people’s lives. I don’t think so.

Once the standard of living goes up birthrate will go down. You’ve seen it in the Scandinavian countries, W. Europe, USA, now Japan. But it’s going to take years for that to happen in China.

In any community of human beings, whether a state or commune, people have already given away some rights to live in it. Like not to kill or steal. One can argue whether that extends to reproduction. Say you live in an apartment complex of studios. When several occupants start bringing in 4 or 5 people to live in a studio, there are sure to be problems. Who has more rights? The right of the occupant to determine who lives inside his/her own studio or the rights of the occupants of the other studios who might be disturbed by too much noise or not enough parking?

>> it’s going to take years for that to happen in China

Major Feelgud, as I posted above, the birth rate in the US is comparable to that of China and much higher to that of Europe.

Maybe I am dense but I can’t see what your second paragraph has to do with anything. Would you advocate the US government do the same things the Chinese government does?

Yes, in America you have no right to steal or kill. In China you have no rights. period. No right to express your personal opinions, no right to practice your religion, no right to decide your life for yourself. I can’t believe anyone here would defend such a system.

As I said, I happen to agree that curbing population growth is a good thing. I support Zero Population Growth, I have personally decided I will not have children, I can see where governments can take measures which would discourage people from having children… but forcing abortions and sterilizations is not a civilized way of going about things. I would not consider China’s system of government comparable to western democracies. Sorry.

Sailor: Birth rate to immigrant Americans is much higher than that citizens born here.

Do not take my post as approval of forced sterilization or anything like that. It’s approval of education. Education of people who don’t want more kids but don’t know how to use a condom etc. It’s also approval that they at least acknowledge problems. Acknowlegement of problems and not denial is the first step.

Rights now are much better than the heydays of the Communist system. You’re reading too much in other people’s posts, don’t accuse me of what I’m not saying. Time for you to take your high blood pressure medication. Sorry.

Major Feelgud, I am just not sure I quite follow you. The way I understand it, the central point of this thread is Chinese policy regarding having children. I took China Guy’s post as an approval of that policy and my post was saying I cnanot approve of it. Your post confuses me because you seem to agree with me in not condoning such policy, and yet, the tone of your post is as if you are contradicting me. Again, I am confused.

>> Birth rate to immigrant Americans is much higher than that citizens born here

Yes, and… ?? My point stands. The birth rate in China and in the US are pretty similar. So it is immigrant Americans having the children? So? The birth rate is still similar. You throw these things at me that throw me off. Tell me if I’m missing something.

>> Do not take my post as approval of forced sterilization or anything like that. It’s approval of education. Education of people who don’t want more kids but don’t know how to use a condom etc. It’s also approval that they at least acknowledge problems. Acknowlegement of problems and not denial is the first step.

Well, good. That is my only point, and we seem to agree. Good. I am glad.

>> Rights now are much better than the heydays of the Communist system

I should know. I have been traveling to China every year for some years now. I was last there for six weeks in January and February. I posted another thread about my trip. While I am no expert on China, I am relatively well read. At present I am reading a history of the People’s Republic by Maurice Meisner which I recommend to anyone interested. Just today I found some interesting stuff here: Cultural Revolution--Research & Studies I do have a little background on Chinese history and present situation.

> You’re reading too much in other people’s posts, don’t accuse me of what I’m not saying.

Well, no. I am not accusing you of anything. Just asking what you meant. You posted this parable about your next door neighbors and I didn’t know how to interpret it. That’s all.

>> Time for you to take your high blood pressure medication

Actually, what I have is very low blood pressure. But yes, you are right: time for another cup of java. :wink:

Mi friend tells me http://www.cnd.org/ is also blocked in China. I just thought I’d mention it. Good thing my friends in China all use proxies.

Actually, the central point of this thread was: In light of said policy, how come China’s population is still on the rise and is predicted to stay that way for the next 50 years?

And I still don’t get this. The policy was implemented in 1979, 22 years ago, so the ‘bulge’ that Wump was going on about should have its cutoff at that date. In another 30 years, all the women of the ‘bulge’ will have stopped bearing children in appreciable numbers. So why will the population still be rising?

This article gives us some idea. (Note: I didn’t choose this article because I’m for or against the policy, I just typed ‘China one child policy’ into Google and hit ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’.)

In fact, I explicitly said that I didn’t want to get into the Great Debate as to whether the policy is Good or Evil. I shoulda known better. (And please, don’t respond to this by saying, ‘yeah, but he hit me back first!’)

>> Actually, the central point of this thread was: In light of said policy, how come China’s population is still on the rise and is predicted to stay that way for the next 50 years?

Well, the only answer is that the birth rate in China is what ever it is in spite of whatever the government has decreed. In other words, I do not think there’s any hidden math or anything of the sort. The fact is that couples are not really having just one child.
>> In fact, I explicitly said that I didn’t want to get into the Great Debate as to whether the policy is Good or Evil. I shoulda known better. (And please, don’t respond to this by saying, ‘yeah, but he hit me back first!’)

Well, you started the thread and I will respect you in trying to keep it on the track you want but I cannot see how it is Ok for someone to take it on another track and not OK for me to respond. I think my responding “but he started it!” is a very valid response.

[Moderator watch ON]
This thread is not for discussion of whether China’s birthrate policy is good or bad. Were that thread to exist (it might, for all I know), it would be in Great Debates. This thread is for the discussion of the implications of said policy on China’s population growth. If you know of any other reasons that China’s population would grow despite this policy, feel free to post them. If you can’t contribute to the discussion at hand, then don’t post.
[Moderator watch OFF]

Another possible explanation could be an increase in lifespan. To take the extreme case, if everyone suddenly became immortal, then the population would grow, regardless of the birthrate. Of course, this hasn’t happened, but average lifespan is constantly increasing, due to advances in medicine, diet, etc. This could have a large short-term effect on population size, but a negligible long-term impact.

>> Another possible explanation could be an increase in lifespan

I can’t see how as that would contribute to population but not to birth rate. As I mentioned, the birth rates of China and the US are quite similar. In other words, I believe the question is “how is it posible for China to have such a birth rate if the one child policy is being strictly enforced?” And the correct answer is: “it is imposible to have such a birth rate if all couples have a maximum of one child” or put another way: The one child policy is not strictly enforced.

China’s population is still going up because

a) the bulge has not yet filtered through the system. The one child policy started in the late 1970’s, so there are still a lot of people in the child bearing range that came from families with several children. Remeber in the 1950’s, families with less than 3 children were considered “unpatriotic” and societal pressures were brought to bring up the birthrate.

b) China’s average life span is increasing. One measure of seeing if Chinese human rights have improved is to look at the average life span.

c) The US has a comperable birth rate including significant immigration. China essentially has a zero immigration rate, so you are comparing apples and oranges on this factoid.

d) Non-Han Chinese minority nationalities like the Yi or Tibetans are allowed either unlimited children or a higher quota than the one child per family.

e) Divorced people with children that remarry can have another child with their new spouse. Ancedotally, I believe this to be significant

f) the one child policy is not strictly enforced. Many places allow a second child if the first is a girl. Others allow a second child if you pay a fine. Because incomes have risen so far, the threat of losing state housing, education, public health care, etc. may not be a deterrent.

g) the last 40 years has not seen mass starvation, nor a war or outbreaks of mass epidemics. All of these factors used to routinely decimate China’s historic population. Even if you want to include the cultural revolution, since the early 1970’s this type of historic population control has not occured. Even the great Tangshan earthquake, where 400,000 people died wasn’t even a blip on the population statistics.

Yep, I’m up for a great debate on any one of a dozen topics regarding China, including population control.

>> The US has a comperable birth rate including significant immigration. China essentially has a zero immigration rate, so you are comparing apples and oranges on this factoid.

You mean you think immigrants are counted as births as they cross into the US? Maybe you can explain it better to me but this is the way I understand it to be:

-A human being departs from his mother’s womb and after a journey through the birth canal arrives in the USA: counted as one birth
-A human being departs from a foreing country and after a journey by land, sea or air arrives on US soil: counted as one immigrant.

Now the figures for births per 100,000 people are pretty much the same for China and the US. China’s is a bit higher but the infant mortality rate is also higher. Essentialy the same birth rate in both countries (and, as I pointed out higher than other European countries).

Now, the fact that the US has higher immigration means the population growth index is higher in the US than in China. But we are discussing the birth rate here. Can you explain your point to me. I don’t get it.