Childfree by Choice & Circumstance in China

chinaThere are some interesting trends going on in China. For a country that has had the one child per couple law for about 30 years now, it may be moving toward a time when they don’t need this kind of law anymore. LA Times journalist David Pierson explains.

“Economic and social pressures are loosening the filial obligations that have long bound Chinese society.” A growing number of Chinese men and women are deciding they don’t want kids. While parenthood is being seen more as a choice, it is still very frowned upon and is definitely not an “accepted” choice.

And more couples who do think they want kids are delaying having them. Why? Seems mostly it has to do with economic concerns. There is a high cost of living that trickles down to high costs associated with raising kids, even for couples with very good incomes. Other couples have concerns about bringing their child into a country that has had its share of problems, from housing bubbles to food safety issues. As a Chinese man in his 30s named Chu puts it, “You don't know what kind of country the kid is going to grow up in"…"Only when you have lots of money will everything be alright.”

The population control law has also created a unique situation in which more men will not have any children. Why—because they won’t be able to find a female partner to hook up with. The one child law, and the “cultural preference” for boys (don’t get me started on that) has left the country with “alarming gender imbalance” –there are 118 men for every 100 women. With this kind of situation, when it comes to marriage, more women can afford to have high expectations and say they don't want to compromise.

With the effects of the population control laws and people’s growing choice to have fewer or no children, some demographers have concerns about the country’s population turning negative in the coming decades.

To this I scratch my head. The country has 1.3 billion people. Would it be so bad if this number reduced? Some population experts say that reducing births is exactly what has to happen if we are ever to even come remotely close to living on a planet with a sustainable population.

Some believe the population control laws should be relaxed. I say work on eliminating the social and cultural prejudice of not having kids instead.  This needs to happen, not just in China, but in every country. It would help not just population problems, but work toward a world that truly has full reproductive freedom.  And if you do want the one child, the prejudice that boys are the preferred choice needs to stop!

 

Laura Carroll

Childfree author of Families of Two

blogging at La Vie Childfree http://lauracarroll.com

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