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Home  /  Inside China  /  Approaching the 'Second Child' – Future plan, motives and public demand
Approaching the 'Second Child' – Future plan, motives and public demand print version
Speculations are becoming more and more concrete, as the 12th Five Year Plan of the Chinese government indicated that the second child (ertai 二胎) might be allowed in the near future. While government officials to abolish birth control completely, they also know that many families won't necessary rush to have their second child.
As the 12th Five Year Plan (‘十二五') of the Chinese government and Communist Party has entered in the beginning of this year (2011-2015), many common people look for development in birth control (计划生育 jihua shengyu) policies, as it seems that persisting on  the one-child could lead to unwanted social outcomes.

The two, perhaps most concrete problematic outcomes of the single-child policy is the aging of society (老龄化 laolinghua) and the '4-2-1' family pattern (four grandparents, two parents, one child), which is characterized, along with some positive feature,  with high pressure which the single child experiences in many domains, and the difficulty a child experiences in supporting and taking care of the parents when they reach old age (this phenomenon is expected to become more intense as the single child generation reaches their 40's and 50's).

When discussing the birth-control policies, it is important to emphasize the exceptions, such as peasants who are allowed to have a second child in case the first is a daughter, similar or even more permissive policies which apply to some ethnic minorities, some regions where two parents who are single children themselves are allowed to have two children and more. Furthermore, it is not rare for parents to find ways to bypass the single-child restrictions, mainly through money and connections (with doctors or government officials), allowing them to avoid from registering the second child.

Where does the policy stand at present days? No official approval for 'setting free the 2nd child' (放开二胎 fangkai ertai), or for the time schedule for its initiation has been issued, though some experts and officials suggest that towards the end of the current Five-Year-Plan new policies will be introduced. In the last 'Two Conferences' (二会erhui, the NPC (National People's Congress) and CPPCC Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference), several experts of demographics, environmental resources and sociology participated in the discussions concerning the future of birth-control in China.

On one hand, the single-child related problems mentioned above require some actions, while on the other, government officials are quite careful with their new suggestions. It is certain that birth-control policies are nowadays already much more relaxed compared to the 'strict-control-epoch' (严格控制时期 yangge kongzhi shiqi) in the 1980's, but nobody wants to let matters return to the chaotic 'let-thing-drift epoch' (放任自流时期 fangren ziliu shiqi) of the 1950's.

Still, it would be naïve to assume that in the modernized and urbanized Chinese society things could lead to such a level. While rural areas already enjoy the option of having the 'er tai' (in case the first child is female, families who have one single boy might still hope for new policies allowing them give birth to a second one), many city families will hesitate before forming a big family. Trying to modify the 4-2-1 format, to reduce pressure from the single-child and simply having another soul towards whom love could be directed, are all reasons which will lead many families to give birth to a second child, but having more children also has some disadvantages.

Except for the fact that many parents got adjusted to the single-child policy and perhaps have learned to be content with it, some socioeconomic issues, which have become hot-topics in the contemporary Chinese society, might promote smaller and smaller families. First of all, as children prefer to focus more on more on studies and experience difficulties in finding good paying jobs, they also depend on the financial support of their parents. The term kenlao (啃老), 'gnawing the old', expresses the phenomena of children becoming an economic burden on their elder folks.

Furthermore, terms like fangnu (房奴) - An apartment slave; chenu (车奴) - Car slave; or simply huonu (活奴) - Slave of life, express the arduous life that youngsters experience, particularly when trying to pay their bills or advance to a more solid lifestyle. While upper class members might land on the safe side (though their demands might be higher as well), many parents hardly wish to give birth to a second child, if it is because they are in aposition of being young parents who can't pay the bills, or in the position of not wanting to grow another child in a reality with such a low level of certainty.

Assisting source: 论“二胎”提案:“二胎”多少家庭生得起, written by 熊传东,

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