Thursday, February 16, 2017

China Gets a Second Child

       For roughly the past 60 years, there has been discussion about the population of the world, and whether or not we will reach our carrying capacity. To reach carrying capacity would mean that the number of people on the earth would have just the right amount of resources to survive. However, this is not an easy thing to measure, and has much variance around the world. There are places that people have more than enough, as well as places where people are running out of supplies. The world is too large of a scale to look at. By narrowing our lens, we can see effects of population control in areas, and how it affects the demographics of the countries being studied.
There are many varying predictions as to how much the population will grow, and which countries will have the highest over the next few years (Barnes). While predictions help us to plan for the future, there is so much variance in them that they may not even be useful. For example, the population of the world varies between whom you ask. Some estimates lead us to believe that we could be between 9 and 13 billion after the 21st century (Mazur). It truly shows us how little we know about how our population is going to grow.  One tool that can be used is a population pyramid. It gives us a good idea of what the demographics of the population looks like, and what is to be expected in the years to come in the work force. Fig. 1 shows the 2014 population pyramid of China. The fact that it is decreasing as the population goes down is not a good sign, and will probably lead to issues in the years to come.
Figure 1: Population Pyramid for China in 2015. Notice how it is not a traditional pyramid, but that it cuts back below the age of 40.
Since 1972, the One-Child Policy of China has been limiting the number of children being born in the country. This policy was in place to reduce the rate of growth and the size of the population so that the famines and crop issues that had plagued the country would be less impactful (Clarke). Surely at the time, it would have made sense to reduce the population size, but the time for it has come to an end. Due to the policy, the large working class is growing old too fast, and there is not enough replacement coming from the younger population to fill all the jobs available. 

Figure 2: Here, China looks like they are overpopulated, but in fact, their population is growing so slow, they will soon begin to decrease if a change is not made. The hope is that the change of the One-Child Policy will help to correct this issue. 
 In 2015, the fertility rate for a woman in China was 1.05, (the lowest in the world) thanks to the one-child policy (Tatlow). This rate was low, and as a result is putting major strain on the economy and the workforce. Starting in 2016, the One-Child Policy was revised, allowing many more people to apply for a second child. This was a huge step, as the government saw the effects of not having a large enough working class and had to change their policy to increase the population.
After a year of the policy being in place, the birth rate has risen by almost 8 percent, adding about 1.3 million more children to the country’s population (Haas). They hope that over the next few years the fertility rate would continue to increase to better stabilize the population. Some citizens think that other changes need to be made to make it even easier for the population to grow. One of the most prominent ideas is to allow single women or gay couples to become pregnant. This would allow a significant proportion of the population that is currently restricted to begin a family.  This policy has driven a large portion of these people out of the country so that they could pursue the life they desire. By revoking it, they would keep these people from emigrating, and they would also get the increase in the fertility rate (Tatlow).

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