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More needed for baby boom

Updated: 2015-11-02 07:47
(China Daily)

More needed for baby boom

Parents choose strollers at a baby and toddler product expo in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian province, on May 30. [Photo/China Daily]

The price of shares in companies making baby food and nappies soared on news the government is to end the decades-old one-child policy and allow all couples to have a second child.

Walt Disney called it "good timing" as the US entertainment giant is preparing to open a theme park in Shanghai. But the weekend was likely to have been only the beginning of heated discussions about whether to have a second child or not among some of the nearly 90 million eligible Chinese families.

If the country is to see the labor force-those aged between 15 and 59-grow by about 30 million by 2050, Chinese policymakers should not underestimate the difficulties in reversing the plunging birth rate.

It is reported that fewer than 1.1 million couples, not 2 million as expected, had applied to have a second child by the end of 2014 after the family planning policy was relaxed in 2013 to allow couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child.

Such a short period of implementation may not be enough to assess the long-term effect of that relaxation. However, that is a good reason for policymakers to carefully review their assumptions about desired demographic changes against the reality.

Other countries' experiences have proven that high costs, career aspirations, women working and rising urbanization in an increasingly wealthy society affect expectations of a baby boom.

It is true that more babies will not be able to have an impact on the graying workforce in about two decades. But they are more than needed to rebalance the country's aging population and power economic growth in the long run. That means more favorable socioeconomic policies for couples to raise more children should be put in place as soon as possible to ensure the desired baby boom materializes.

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