Birth fatigue: what limits the fertility of Chinese people?

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 Birth fatigue: what limits the fertility of Chinese people?


In early 2016, the family planning policy was relaxed and the two children were released. The former National Health Planning Commission estimated that the average annual fertility population would be 3 million more than the previous year, and by 2050, the working-age population over 15 years old would increase by more than 30 million net.

But the reality is that there were 17.86 million new people in that year, only 1.31 million more than the previous year, which is much lower than expected; in 2017, there were 17.23 million new people, a decrease of 630,000 compared with the previous year. A new change is that more than half of the new population has two births, reaching 51.2%, while the number of new births has decreased by 2.76 million. Not only the number of twins is difficult to drive the growth of population, but also the willingness to give birth to a single child is not very strong.

In September, the newly established National Health and Health Commission announced three plans, and three family planning-related divisions were abolished, which seemed to herald a possible end to the family planning policy.

Chinas low fertility rate has lasted for nearly 30 years. The imbalance of social and economic structure has resulted in a continuous shortage of total fertility energy. Only by changing the cognitive mode and continuing to promote the comprehensive reform of family registration, employment, education, medical treatment and pension related to fertility, can peoples confidence in fertility be positively promoted.

In a high-end maternity hospital in Beijing, health care workers are looking after a newborn. Map / visual China

The dilemma of marriage

This is his third girlfriend, a civil servant in a neighbouring county. After being introduced to each other for half a year, the families of the two sides began to plan their marriage. After several rounds of negotiations, they collapsed. This is a typical county-style breakup, wedding preparations were abandoned, lovers became acquaintances, goodbye, no special waves.

Yin Cheng was born and raised in the countryside of the county, and his father worked as a village director and secretary. He finished college and took the civil service exam. During his tenure, he studied as a graduate student. His father bought a house in the county town as early as possible. Yin Chengs girlfriend who broke up this time is an only child. Her family requests to bring 200,000 yuan cash gifts on the engagement day and buy another house in the neighbouring County for the convenience of taking care of her parents-in-law in the near future. Yin Chengyues salary was less than 4000 yuan, and his family could not afford to buy another house for him.

Liu Hui, who works in the County Water Conservancy Bureau, does not regret the breakup of his friend Yin Cheng. A house in the county town costs 7.8 million yuan, and the woman is asking for another one too much. Lottery gifts, rural areas and counties, like men out of 180,000, 200,000 yuan, women with poor family conditions may leave tens of thousands of yuan, usually these money to their daughters at their disposal, such as buying a car and dowry. Liu Hui said.

Liu Hui, who has been in the village for two years and participated in poverty alleviation work, said, Let alone have children, there are no twelve young men in which village who cant marry at the age of 25 or so? Liu Qinglin, the owner of a band in Tangshan rural areas, told Caijing that the cost of marriage is the same in the local area, and that a house in a county town would cost about 1 million yuan. Liu Qinglins orchestra is specially for the rural wedding ceremony.

Fei Xiaotong pointed out in his book Jiangcun Economy in 1938 that the bride price is a kind of compensation for the loss of labor force by marriage between the male family and the female family, which injects resources into the new family through the form of dowry. With the development of economy and abundant assets, besides the bride price, the man buys cars and houses for the new family, which enlarges the connotation of the resource bride price which is transmitted from generation to generation.

In the counties where Yin Cheng and Liu Hui are located, there are many factors contributing to the excessive cost of marriage: there are objective reasons such as limited spouse selection and distribution, more girls going out to work, and subjective reasons such as the imbalance of the proportion of men and women caused by family planning, as well as the lack of womens rights.

According to the figures released by Hebei Statistical Bureau, in 2016, the per capita disposable income of rural residents in the province was 119,000 yuan. According to this estimate, it takes 5.6 years for a rural family with three labor forces and boys to allocate 200,000 yuan of lottery gifts for marriage, and 28 years for a house in a county town.

Cui Yu, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and former vice-chairman of the All-China Womens Federation, said at this years National Two Sessions that 30.4% of women had no registered names on land contract management rights certificates and 80.2% had no registered names on land use rights certificates. Whether it is allocation or inheritance, rural women are at a very significant disadvantage in terms of important family assets such as land and real estate.

Women will also spend more time and energy in raising children in the future, so they will be more motivated to take a place in the new family in the form of bride price and real estate, which in turn will form obstacles to male marriage.

Total fertility energy is launched around the formation of new families and child-rearing. The mixed allocation of assets, time, labor force and family affection is indispensable. Under the circumstance of the limited income of rural families, the cost of total fertility energy has been raised, which makes it more and more scarce.

Marriage dilemma is an important precondition for delaying marriage and childbearing. Zhong Xiaohui, an associate researcher at the School of Public Affairs Management, Sun Yat-sen University, told Caijing that the average age of first marriage in China increased from 21.4 to 25.7 years from 1990 to 2017, and the average age of first childbearing was delayed from 23.4 to 26.8 years.

For a long time, the image of supernatant guerrillas of rural and floating population has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. They are generally considered to be the most contributing group to fertility, but the actual situation is the opposite. Guo Zhigang, a researcher at the Center for Social Development Research of Peking University and professor of sociology, told Caijing that the fertility rate in rural areas has declined the most since 2005, and that the fertility rate of floating population is much lower than the overall fertility level in China.

Poverty limits fertility.

On July Eve, Jia Wens plan was to have dinner with her husband or watch a movie after work, but she finished work more than 7 p.m. and her husband entered the house at 23:58.

Jiawen came from Henan Province and married her husband in Beijing in 2014. They were typical teenagers in County towns. After studying in university, Jiawens family paid 100,000 yuan, Jiawens family paid 300,000 yuan, together with their savings, borrowed 1.1 million yuan to buy a house. Husband is very strong. He works greedily in the morning and in the dark. After three years, he returns all his father-in-laws money and his daughter is born. Mother-in-law was afraid to come to Beijing to live at first. She preferred to pay for a nanny for her granddaughter. A year later, she came. Babysitters are always better than their families. Jia Wen said. This is also the place where we feel that we owe our mother-in-law because our children have separated them from each other.

Jiawen and his wife are wage earners who are determined not to have a second child. Their daughters consumption of about 5,000 yuan per month is already a heavy burden. Once pregnant, they will be labeled in the company and their wages will be reduced by at least half during childbirth. Im pretty good. During maternity leave, I can still have 2500 yuan per month. After pregnancy, I added a lot of Wechat groups. Some mothers have no income during maternity leave. Im afraid less than 5% of them want to have a second child. Jia Wen said.

It is also because of the difficulty of returning to the workplace. Li Ke, like the North drift, is determined not to have a second child.

A few years ago, in order to settle down in Beijing, the parents of both parents had been emptied. As our son grows up, the cost of kindergartens and special classes is too much for us, and we need to pay back the mortgage. Li can say. In order to alleviate the pressure of her husband and return to work smoothly, Li Kes parents-in-law came to Beijing from their hometown to help. Four adults and one child, crowded into a two bedroom house.

If you have a second child, you have to change your house and your car. The economic burden is on your husband. The old man is old and the energy to take care of his children is limited. Li Ke himself is facing another workplace breakdown: I have had a hard time getting out, and I will definitely not go into another pit.

In counties and villages, the process of overdraft transfer of resources from large families to new families also occurs in the new middle class of urban mobility. Families of both sides are not only more willing to pay huge sums to buy houses for the next generation, but also devote thousands of miles of labor to take care of the next generation for their children.

Zhong Xiaohui said: we should first ask why Chinas parents are in such a situation. This is directly related to the insufficient old-age security. Parents buy houses for their adult children and take care of their children. To some extent, they also invest in a family relationship and security for themselves.

Buying a house in the city is actually the responsibility of the man and his parents, which is both the cause and the result of the lack of womens rights. Like in the countryside, urban womens contribution to family and childbirth also requires balanced housing and the marriage and life stability it affirms. This imbalance also extends to the rural areas. The problem of providing for the parents of the only child.

From marriage to childbirth, from rural to county to urban, these are two intertwined routes in the past 40 years. The trajectory of a generation has laid the foundation for the future of the next generation, and the cost has increased with this flow.

Here in Jiawen and Li Ke, the resources of one generation of families are far from enough, and the total fertility energy of two generations of families has to be closely tied together.

Battle of uterus

Wen Si rushed home after four hours of chatting with the reporter of Finance and Economics, and her husband and nanny lined up at the elevator entrance with their little daughter, whose eyes were red with crying.

Vince is 32 years old, the mother of 3 daughters. Every night when she goes to bed, only her eldest daughter is willing to lie in bed, and her husband and her husband catch the struggling one in the living room and bedroom, exchanging their grieving eyes: you are to blame for giving birth so much.

Similarly, Wensi is a minority of mothers who can break through the scarcity of total fertility energy with their own efforts. A key normal university graduate, before marriage was a teacher of education and training institutions. Although she is the beneficiary of the college entrance examination, she also works in education, but she does not want her children to go further.

Wen Si said that such an education system is expensive, but the return is limited - at the expense of overdrawing childrens interest and motivation in learning, through the screening of various scoring systems, it can only encourage parents to maintain urbanization migration and class upgrading that they have completed.

In 2012, when Beijing Meets Seattle, Wensi spent part of her family resources to produce her eldest daughter in the United States. A year later, in the spring, the 48-day movie, which was released, broke the record of domestic love movies with a box office of 520 million yuan. It is also interesting to note that many mothers, such as Wen Si, who have gone abroad to give birth to children have unfolded their stories.

One and a half years later, Vince found that she had been pregnant again for 12 weeks, and she and her husband decided to give birth. The unexpected that did not conform to the family planning policy left her with few choices. Wen Si gave birth to her second and youngest daughters in the United States one after another.

Their decision was strongly opposed by their parents. In the hearts of generations, family planning was deeply rooted. They are all intellectuals, working in state-owned enterprises, firmly believing that having more children is the manifestation of rural womens ignorance and backwardness. Said Vince.

Wen Sis father even called his son-in-law, hoping that he could stop Wen Si as a husband. Her husbands support made her feel relieved: The uterus is hers. Why should I stop it? Besides, what rights do we have to decide the fate of a life?

Despite the comfortable family conditions, the parenting pressure of the three children is also real, so the husband resigned to take the baby home with Wensi partner. Wen Si and her husbands action of defending the uterus is not an emotional act. It also triggers a surprising result that others see as the motivation of Wen Sis entrepreneurship.

In 2015, Wensi was still at home looking after her two daughters. She personally went to Xindi Market in Beijing three times a week to buy food for the children. Neighbors and friends also sought for her to buy food on behalf of her. As a thank you, she often paid more. Vince found that a weeks surpluses were enough to cover all food expenses at home.

Its a good business. Shes trying to expand her business by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to supermarkets and restaurants in addition to sporadic sales. To cope with the expanding business, she rented a cold storage in the new land. Every morning at 3 or 4 oclock, she would rush to the new place, pick and purchase in person, arrange for workers to pack in the warehouse and then deliver the goods until more than 9 oclock in the morning.

On the issue of fertility, Wensis point of view is complete womens rights. Cognition, prejudice and discrimination around women are all increasing their reproductive burden. Family, workplace and property are also the fields in which they occur.

Wen Si started his business as a mother, not only understood the double difficulties of women bearing fertility and occupation, but also understood the dilemma of entrepreneurs: Whether male employees have children or not, they will be a complete labor force. If female employees have children, it will actually be only half of the labor force.

Public opinion and traditional ideas also put pressure on women who have been educated. To Wen Sis indignation, her husband can get the unanimous appreciation of the residents of the community when he walks out with his daughter for ten minutes. She will only be praised for good life when she goes out with her daughter, and she has a husband who is willing to take children.

Why do women have to be super mothers to take care of their families and work? Husbands are good husbands as long as they dont take drugs or engage in prostitution or domestic violence?

Wen Si concludes that most of the multi-child families around her have three characteristics. First, the parents and families of both husband and wife can give icing on the cake support, at least not increase the burden of the new familys pension. Wensis parents used to be employees of the central enterprises, and his mother-in-law was a doctor hired back from the hospital. The elders were healthy and had stable retirement security. The second is that in many families, husbands are willing to participate in parenting. More importantly, at least one of the couples owns their own company. Business may not be as good as before, but the bottom is still there, there is no financial pressure at home. This means that more abundant income can continue to input resources for the total energy of childbirth.

For urban working women, the contradiction between work and child-rearing is the main burden on them. In order to release womens fertility confidence in urban areas, Zhong Xiaohui believes that there are two levels of deficiencies in public policy and resource supply.

One level is the government. The inclusive service system of nursery (0-3 years old) is scarce. The price of nursery service in the market is very high. Therefore, it requires individuals and families to invest a lot of economic, human and time costs. Besides, community mutual assistance is also a resource for child care development that is not developed in China. I have hardly heard of a community in any Chinese city where parents help each other with their children as a routine practice, but there are voluntary mutual aid organizations in Korea and the United Kingdom, as well as small but shaping social organizations that provide parenting assistance services. Zhong Xiaohui said.

On the other hand, women of childbearing age are discriminated against in employment and promotion in the labor market, especially after the implementation of the comprehensive two-child policy.

Zhong Xiaohui thought that he could explore in three directions. The first is to compensate for the cost of employing workers, such as the government formulating tax cuts and subsidies, and helping to establish a short-term replacement system. It is not helpful to make enterprises fully responsible and even condemn their immoral and irresponsible discrimination against women. Secondly, through the establishment of incentives such as paternity leave, men are encouraged to devote more to housework and child care, not just to the role of paying for the family.

Thirdly, the whole society recognizes the value that women pay for housework and childcare, and provides effective legal protection and welfare support for women. For example, childrens allowances, tax breaks and exemptions for mothers who are under pressure to raise children, support for womens return to work, and ensure womens employment opportunities are provided. Women who pay for their families can be compensated and helped.

Of course, there are other ways of thinking, that is, the childs upbringing and education are entirely covered by the state, and there is no need for husband and wife to take care of it. Its just an ideal state. Its not realistic. Zhong Xiaohui said.

Believe in mothers, believe in fertility.

Over the past 20 years, the total fertility rate in China has always been a mysterious figure.

Total fertility rate refers to the average number of children born by women during childbearing age in a certain country or region. 2.1 is a recognized balance index, that is to say, the fertility rate remains at 2.1, and the total population of this ethnic group will not show obvious fluctuation in a period of time.

On September 25, 1980, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued a call to all members of the Communist Party and the Communist Youth League to encourage a couple to have only one child. This document is considered to be the beginning of the family planning policy that has lasted for nearly 40 years.

Guo Zhigang said that in the 1960s and 1970s, the total fertility rate was between 5 and 6. The 1982 national census showed that the fertility rate had dropped to more than 2. In 1992, the National Family Planning Commission conducted a census, but no fertility rate was announced.

I saw in a sample survey that the actual fertility rate is only a little more than 1.5. At that time, no one believed this figure. If there were no major disasters or social changes, the fertility rate would suddenly drop so much, people would rather believe that the data were wrong. In this way, the signal of collapse of the first fertility rate was ignored, Guo Zhigang said.

Since then, fertility has entered a statistical circle for more than 20 years.

Since 1995, censuses have shown that the fertility rate has dropped from 1.46 to 1.047, but eventually it has been revised to an official level of 1.8, which has remained unchanged for more than a decade, and then to 1.7, which is currently 1.6.

Around 2009, the family planning authorities at that time had planned to liberalize single births, and then the banner was slackened. It was not until the new central leadership pushed for further reform that the two children alone was officially released in November 2013.

According to Guo Zhigang, at the meeting held by the family planning department, some population experts strongly suggested that the family planning policy should be fully liberalized as soon as possible. With the prompt promotion of the central government, this was the second step of the comprehensive two-child adjustment.

In Guo Zhigangs view, the experience of developed countries shows that fertility rate will decrease with the development of social economy. Chinas goal of controlling population growth by family planning has been accomplished. Now facing the severe challenge of the aging of young children, we should immediately and comprehensively liberalize the birth restrictions. Even so, fertility is difficult to return to the level of 2.1 generational replacement, and even the 1.8 fertility rate, which is considered moderate, can hardly be really maintained.

Liang Zhongtang believes that with the deepening of reform and opening up, these two inherent ideas have long lost their foothold. Firstly, in the process of the transition from agricultural society to industrialization, productivity as a key factor in promoting the economy has achieved geometric series growth, and secondly, practice has proved that the market is a more efficient way to allocate resources.

The reality is changing, but the policy has not been adjusted in time.

Yin Cheng, Jiawen, Li Ke and Wensis experience is the metaphor of the present situation: under the condition of limited resources, even if the total fertility energy of the two generations is bound together, depending on the income of the working class alone, marriage and raising a child have been stretched, Wensi can rely on its own innovation and productivity improvement, production and nurturing. Three children.

Guo Zhigang and Liang Zhongtang both explicitly oppose suggestions such as the fertility fund to encourage fertility. In Liang Zhongtangs view, such policies are not so much encouragement as another form of coercion: Now you say encouragement, once you enter the governments work system, what can you do if you cant implement them? It must become coercion.

Liang Zhongtang believes that the fertility rate is the result of social and economic structure rather than the cause. Social and economic development and the transformation of agriculture to industry will inevitably be accompanied by large-scale population movement and rapid urbanization. Only in this process can people continuously improve their income and livelihood, and have basic guarantee for their future life. Stable expectations can have a positive impact on fertility. In his view, the reform of household registration, employment, medical treatment, education, pension and other fields related to reproduction is not thorough. Farmers or their descendants can work, go to school and get employment in cities, but they can not smoothly transform into citizens. The market allocation of resources is difficult to play a basic role. The weak economic growth and unbalanced social structure are low fertility. The root cause of the rate. Peoples fertility is not the governments job, nor can it. The economy and structure are reasonable. People have more confidence in life and future. Birth is a natural result. Liang Zhongtang said. Source: editor in charge of Finance and Economics: Wang Zheng _NN7526

Liang Zhongtang believes that the fertility rate is the result of social and economic structure rather than the cause. Social and economic development and the transformation of agriculture to industry will inevitably be accompanied by large-scale population movement and rapid urbanization. Only in this process can people continuously improve their income and livelihood, and have basic guarantee for their future life. Stable expectations can have a positive impact on fertility.

In his view, the reform of household registration, employment, medical treatment, education, pension and other fields related to reproduction is not thorough. Farmers or their descendants can work, go to school and get employment in cities, but they can not smoothly transform into citizens. The market allocation of resources is difficult to play a basic role. The weak economic growth and unbalanced social structure are low fertility. The root cause of the rate.