China to ditch its one-child policy as ageing crisis looms

China's new leaders are close to abandoning the country's one-child policy, belatedly moving to avert an ageing crunch as the work force goes into sharp decline.

The official news agency Xinhua reported that the Family Planning Commission is studying proposals to lift the ban on a second child, if either parent is an only child. The body's spokesman said aim is to "improve" family policy, confirming leaks to Chinese newspapers that a major shift is in the works. The new rules are expected to come into force early next year, and may be extended to cover all families by 2015.

undergroundman14: Why don't the Chinese simply allow mass migration instead? Oh yeah, I forgot, only western nations are stupid enough to solve low birth rates with mass migration from the third world.

Robert Bray:  Also, immigration programs normally focus on skilled migrants, who are exactly what any modern economy needs. Our current mass migration from the third world is getting the cream of their crops.

Robert Bray:  The sort of people who'd move there en masse are the sort of people China already has too many of anyway.

Brian Otridge: So, when China's population starts burgeoning again, and the Third World continues to grow in population apace as they still have large families despite the benefits of the medicines we give them, the world is going to hit the buffers sometime this century on food supply. And we all know where that leads… War.

juliusmalema: Disease, war and starvation is how over population is controlled.   The Chinese have an insatiable appetite for resources and are scouring the Earth (Africa and South America particularly). Now they have the global reach, economic and military power and single minded patriotism to take what they want. Given there are finite resources on one planet conflict is inevitable. 

Tom Anderson: So a war between a homogeneous single minded nation vs culturally diluted mish mash who cant agree on anything.  Gee, I wonder which will win?

Steve Casey: Well perhaps if the western so called 'rich' nations hadn't plundered the whole worlds resources for generations then there would be enough left for everybody else. Unless, of course you are going to pay back every penny of gold, diamonds, silver, bauxite, rubber, oil, gas, ooh ooh big one - LAND,  back to the countries you stole it from a hundred years ago.

中國反誹謗聯盟Chinese Anti-Defamation: What about the plundering you are currently doing in China? Why are you stealing jobs from Chinese who are just as qualified?

SHEREKHAN&Co.: Yes, which going by historic precedent will most likely be fought between China and itself.

Stephen Lawrence:  Modern wars are economic - thus I think the 'war' will be between China and the rest of the world. China has the edge in terms of the potential strength of its currency. Officially, we're all broke, but there couldbe a strong dislocation of the monetary system , in which case it's every man for himself…

birney: and the man with the weapon and the mentality to use it, wins

aaa: ahh medcine you provided ??? doubt it and the earth is not over population ,that is a myth promoted by bill gates 

RoganM: Its not only a matter of how many more could be supported with this or that improvement in food and other infrastucture contrivances. It is about what you're going to do with those extra people; what THEY are going to do with themselves. It isn't just a matter of people existing regardless, it is also (dare I say MORE so) about having a life worth existing in the first place. "Too many" is also a matter of how many can  be accommodated SOCIALLY. As the world advances, fewer people are needed to run the food creation/production and the other things that benefit from such advancement. Some of the slack will be taken up by the increased numbers requiring the resources but that would give a diminishing return over time even if that backwards logic was an acceptable way to go in the first place. Increasingly improved healthcare has a downside, more people with longer though nonproductive lives. NO society other than a totalitarian regime straight out of  the darkest science fiction (or should I perhaps suggest science possibility/probability) could contemplate depriving the non-productive of their lives. Such would forsake the all-too-important "civilised" portion of our composite "civilisation" of nation states. The time must inevitably come, if a major catastrophe or multiples of such in series does not relieve the pressure (note I don't say 'cure' - the relief would be temporary at best - that line from the Matrix movie stating the problem best of all when humanity was equated with a virus in its capacity to consume everything while spreading to fill anything it could), when everyone "to be fair" (at least outside of the ruling elite, again a naturally occurring phenomenon) will be rationed with ever-decreasing resourses until the whole ediface breaks down… and all this assumes that a) the ruling elite can keep a lid on the human reactions to deprivation, b) there is no all-devouring criminal element that will not take by force or other such methods, whatever they can get away with - with all of the known effects from criminality on the victim class, and c) that ordinary people are not driven to fight for local resources, officially or otherwise, taking care of their own before they take care of others. I am no fan of the Chinese nation (although individually the Chinese I have met have always been much the same as people I have met from all around the world - they just want to get on with their lives without too many headaches along the way). But at least they have attempted to face the problem after a fashion. Trouble is though that what can go wrong, be misinterpreted or can give meaning to the lives of the 'Jobsworths' of the world as apparently in the awful case of the baby aborted just before it was due to be born - well, the human factor makes sure that if something can be used/abused/confused, it will be. And usually tragically. Sorry aaa - you get a 'F' for negligible observed forethought in your comment. Anyone who thinks the problems and solutions to life are simple doesn't know much about the human factor that is involved in everything.

PaulWeighell: "and the earth is not over population ,that is a myth promoted by bill gates " ha ha There are plenty of resources for all tra la, fresh water grows on trees tra la, food is inexhaustible tra la, land is being made in factories tra la.

globalise: Too late. The average Chinese worker isn't going to have much energy left for procreation when they are supporting four grandparents and two parents, as well as a high maintenance wife and a ridiculously overpriced flat in a pokey highrise!

Steve Casey: I really want to argue against you but your kinda right. Spesh on the overpriced apartment and high maintenance wife (shhh… she's listening)

zorbatheturk: start breeding and stop posting on DT, is my considered advice.

ZhongGuoTomg: Oh, dear.  I must tell all my young Chinese friends about the Xinhua report.  They've all thought that the policy, reported in this article as being 'considered', has been in place for years. But, while it has been in place for years, I've not noticed any great rush for young couples to have two children.  It's not that they don't necessarily want two children, it's just that they feel they can't afford them. After all, two children mean ultimately a 3-bedroom, at least, flat.  A three-bedroom flat at 13,000 to 15,000 rmb per square takes rather more of a capital outlay than most can easily afford - and this is not in Beijing, Shanghai, etc. where prices are much higher.  It is true that, if people are prepared to move rather more into the sticks than they would like, they can get places for 8,000 RMB per square - but the relative inconvenience and added commuting cost make the initial saving one of doubtful virtue in my view.  There are, of course, sections of the local population where multi-child families seem to be the norm.  In our small city, genuine local residents number no more than 50% of the population.  There are as many 'migrants', people who live rather more outside the documented framework that genuine 'local' people live in.  If I venture into this part of town, I note that these people appear free to breed with spontaneity - which, of course, leads to the old problem:  the richer, better educated classes breed sparingly, the less well-educated, the less affluent classes breed enthusiastically. As for the policy whereby farmers can have two children if the first is a girl, as I've observed it, no one takes much notice.  The farmers I know in Central China all have two children regardless of the sex of the first. China is never quite what outside observers think it is.

zorbatheturk: breeding does need to be done with at least some enthusiasm by the male of the breeding pair or else the biological result desired is unlikely to be achieved. but the Chinese do know about limp noodles.

kurto1:  Well it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming years - one key difference between China and the west is that the retired workers do not impose nearly such a burden on the state as pension / healthcare / benefits system are nothing like what we are used to. One has to remember that China still has a massive population, massive water shortages and  food shortages in many regions. Clearly the one-child policy has caused a (predictable) demographic issue, but it has also averted a potentially disastrous over-population problem.