Today, many couples who meet the standard of the existing two-child policy are “afraid” to have a second child because they think they cannot afford it. Before the relaxation, one-third of the Chinese couples met the criteria of having two children, under which both parents needed to be the only child, but only 10% of them chose to have a second child, according to a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
If the fear is related to the cost of having a second child, why did people have more children before the reform and opening-up when they were struggling with poverty?
Before the reform and opening-up, having more children embodied the belief in traditional reproduction and helped increase the labor force of the family. Due to the prevailing socio-economic limitations, it was hard to realize personal value and parents didn’t expect much of their children. Therefore, parents only hoped to bring their children up into adulthood, regardless of the quality of their living environment.
With the gradual disappearance of those limitations, more emphasis has been put on the realization of the personal value in the past 30 years. Parents have begun to think more about whether they can afford to help their children realize their personal goals. Parents have to sacrifice their time, hobbies, quality of life and even careers to raise a child. When couples think this would lower their own personal value, they would certainly be afraid of having another child.
The relaxation of the policy is not the fundamental solution to the old-age problem and the demographic dividend crisis caused by the decline in the population. We should enhance the environment for living and personal development and lower the cost of child-raising. The fear of having children will dissipate only when food safety is guaranteed, housing is made affordable and opportunities of education and employment are equal for everyone.
(Edited by Billie Feng)