Too Far Gone?

A sculpture promoting China’s one child policy. 

China has officially moved from a one child policy to a two child policy.  Parents now have permission (???) to have two children instead of just one. Any policy that reduces the number of abortion is a good thing. But can a culture that for decades has promoted in every way possible one child now magically change? I am not convinced.

The article states that the one child policy has prevented 400 million births, that is 400 million abortions. Let that number roll around in your head and heart for a moment. The population of the United States is around 320 million. Imagine our entire nation and then some wiped out.

China adopted the one child policy in the late 1970’s. The leaders in China said this policy, along with opening up trade, led to dramatic economic growth for China. But all sin is short-sighted. The economic growth of the 80’s and 90’s has been replaced by a slow downturn. Now China’s population is aging rapidly. The Economist addressed this problem in this 2011 article. There are way more men than women with some estimates that there are over 50 million more men than women. The number of employees is shrinking as the age of the population grows. China, despite being the most populous country in the world, is dying.

Because the economy is struggling the leaders have decided to allow couples to have two children not just one. I am glad there has been a  policy change. It will mean less abortions, but how many less? Are there millions of Chinese who want two children, but were forced to have only one? I don’t think so. For example, in 2013 China modified its one child policy allowing urban couples to have two children. However, there were not many takers. Most families still had one child. My guess is that will continue to happen even with this policy change.

Here is the end of the article

As the country has grown wealthier, couples have increasingly delayed having even one child as they devote more time to other goals, such as building their careers.

“There’s a lot of opportunity cost to having children. The norm has changed to one or none,” said Joan Kaufman, Director of the Columbia Global Centers East Asia and a long-time expert on China’s population planning.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a massive unleashing of this pent-up desire for children.”

The Chinese public met the announcement cautiously, with many saying the change would only add to the already intense social and financial pressures attached to reproduction.

“I will have four parents to take care of, along with two children,” noted one online commenter. “This is too great a responsibility”.

Wu Bohao, a 23-year-old single child, told AFP: “Raising a child is quite expensive. For me, having one kid would be enough.

While pro-lifers and human rights people might be thrilled about this change, for the Chinese a 2nd child is “too great a responsibility” and “quite expensive.” And that is exactly what they have been trained to think. For several decades the Chinese government has taught its people to love freedom from children and money more than fruitfulness. This has been pounded in their heads by cheap abortions, forced abortions, speeches, policies, emphasis on the economy, etc. For decades society has been built around having one child. Most adults were only children, saw their parents raise one child, expect to have one child, and probably only have the desire to have one child. Why should I spend another nine months pregnant? Why should I miss more work to have 2nd child? The people have learned well. There will be more children, but there will not be a huge upsurge of births, at least not for a long while. Why should there be? Money and freedom have mattered more than children for over thirty years. Why should that change now?

I pray it will be different. I pray that China will become fruitful again. But I do wonder if, at least for the next several decades, she is too far gone for this to happen. I doubt that outside of godly Christians who desire fruitfulness permeating that society she will ever get near to the 1950’s average of over 5 children per family.