Monday, December 10, 2012

Birds 'n Bees...and Girls

Gotta give Chinese officialdom credit for being able to read the writing on the wall. They read the aging statistics in the West, witness the graying of Japan's population and see Putin beg Russian women to make babies for the Motherland. They know where China is headed without a course adjustment; hence the recent headline: Birth rule could be relaxed. 
All sorts of interesting things are coming on the heels of the Communist Party's Pomp & Paper doings in Beijing in October including 'possible' changes to the family planning policy. One of the key changes that may take place concerns the criteria for urban couples having a second child. Presently only parents who are themselves an only child are allowed to have a second child; and this applies mostly to the majority Han Chinese ethnicity. There are about 60 ethnic groups in China and many 'minority' races who live way out in the autonomous regions are not under the restrictions of the one-child policy; especially in farming areas. The present fertility rate in China stands at about 1.7 which is below the replacement level of 2.1.
But unless they add some serious incentives to these policy changes it may be too little too late. The cost of living is rising rapidly and the cost of raising a child in an ambitious, upwardly mobile society may be a "thanks but no thanks" policy change to a blossoming middle class that likes to go shopping...a lot. The old two-child policy may eventually become the future trend but make not mistake; "in the coming 20 years, family planning on the mainland will remain dominated by the government rather than the family itself." 

I remember hearing all kinds of horror stories about selective abortions in favor of boy babies and the low number of girls in the Chinese population. I don't know about the rest of China, but here in Jinan women are in plentiful supply. In our classes of 30 to 40 students, we have at most 3 young men per class; the rest are all fine, young women. And I've read a few news stories that indicate that while it is the filial duty of sons to care for their elderly parents, it is the daughters who are doing that job; and doing it with more care and attention than the sons. In fact, it is very successful sons who are beginning to put their parents in assisted living centers which are starting to pop up in large urban areas. 

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