China: The Men Who Are Single And the Women Who Don’t Want Kids
A once-in-a-decade population census has shown that births in China have fallen to their lowest level since the 1960s – leading to calls for an end to birth control policies. But some in China say these policies aren’t the only thing that’s stopping them.
Despite being hassled by her mum about it, Beijing resident Lili* is not planning to have children any time soon.
The 31-year-old, who has been married for two years, wants to “live my life” without the “constant worries” of raising a child.
“I have very few peers who have children, and if they do, they’re obsessed about getting the best nanny or enrolling the kids in the best schools. It sounds exhausting.”
Lili spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, noting that her mother would be devastated if she knew how her daughter felt.
But this difference of opinion between the generations reflects the changing attitudes of many young urban Chinese toward childbirth.
…China’s census, released earlier this month, showed that around 12 million babies were born last year – a significant decrease from the 18 million in 2016, and the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s.
…While the overall population grew, it moved at the slowest pace in decades, adding to worries that China may face a population decline sooner than expected.
Shrinking populations are problematic due to the inverted age structure, with more old people than young.
…Neighbouring countries like Japan and South Korea, for example, have also seen birth rates fall to record lows in recent years despite various government incentives for couples to have more children.
The severe gender imbalance
But experts say China’s situation could be uniquely exacerbated given the number of men who are finding it difficult to find a wife in the first place, let alone think of starting a family.
This is a hangover of the country’s strict one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 to slow population growth.
In a culture that historically favours boys over girls, the policy led to forced abortions and a reported glut of new born boys from the 1980s onwards.
“This poses problems for the marriage market, especially for men with less socioeconomic resources,” Dr Mu Zheng, from the National University of Singapore’s sociology department, said.
After all, there is a severe gender imbalance in the country – last year, there were 34.9 million more males than females.
…In 2016, the government ended the policy and allowed couples to have two children.
However, the reform has failed to reverse the country’s falling birth rate despite a two-year increase immediately afterwards.
‘Who would dare have kids in this situation?’
Experts say it is also because the relaxing of the policy did not come with other changes that support family life – such as monetary support for education or access to childcare facilities.
Many people simply cannot afford to raise children amid the rising costs of living, they say.
…She added that the notion of what makes a person successful has also changed in China – at least for those living in big cities.
No longer is it defined by traditional markers in life such as getting married and having children – instead, it’s about personal growth.
Women in particular are still expected to be the primary caregiver due to gender norms.
…On Chinese social media, the issue is a hot topic, with the hashtag “why this generation of young people are unwilling to have babies” being read more than 440 million times on microblogging platform Weibo.
Read the remainder of that article (Link): here
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)