What is the ideal number of children in a family? For anyone looking to start a family, children are a huge responsibility, but this question also plagues governments in the process of developing child policies.
During the 1970s, many countries were afraid of a rapidly growing population, given their limited resources. China being one of them, the country’s government took an extreme approach and introduced the One-Child Policy in 1980, limiting couples to one child. Having another child without a permit would result in hefty fines, and sometimes women could even be coerced into an abortion or sterilization. In contrast, mothers of single-child homes were given longer maternity leaves and other incentives .
Although having prevented 400 million births according to the Chinese government, the One-Child Policy had repercussions . Not enough young people are now entering the workforce to sustainably support healthcare costs, other expenses of the elderly, and the economy. Also, due to a cultural preference for males over females, women were more likely to abort female infants than male infants during the implementation of the One-Child Policy. As a result, China has the most skewed gender ratio in the modern world.
China relaxed its policies in 2015 to allow couples to have up to two children. Despite this change, the Chinese Census reported a declining birthrate, where only 12 million babies were born in 2020 — the lowest birth rate since 1961. On May 31, 2021, its government announced the Three-Child Policy—pushing the limit to three children—to combat its rapidly aging population. With this new policy, the country hopes to stimulate the economy and improve its inverted population pyramid. However, the announcement of this policy has not been met with enthusiasm from Chinese millennials, many of whom view having children as unappealing for reasons that include but are not limited to the following:
Smaller families have become the norm in Chinese culture because of the One-Child Policy. This standard might not change any time soon since an 0nly child would be at an advantage over a child with more siblings since parents’ resources and attention are more concentrated onto a single individual.
Many employers in China require a 9 am–9 pm, six-days-a-week work schedule, making it difficult for employees to have relationships outside of work.
The Three-Child Policy pushes some of the financial burden of childrearing onto employers, requiring them to pay for their workers’ maternity or paternity leave. Thus, firms might be discouraged from hiring women and married couples.
Providing potential children with the best education and standard of living may be difficult because of the unaffordable cost of living; A lack of childcare systems exacerbates the situation.
In light of these reasons, China has promised to help families with the rising cost of education and child care, but they have yet to specify specific methods for doing so. Skeptics of the new change in policies argue that more monetary incentives and other substantial  benefits are needed to impact birth rate meaningfully.