Chinese economy

After the comprehensive two child policy, the birth cliff appears instead From China Fertility Report

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China’s fertility policy and its evolution in the past 70 years: population crisis approaching

1.1 evolution of fertility policy: from family autonomy to government planning, from encouragement to strict control and then to relaxation

Since 1949, China’s fertility policy has gone through four stages: one is to encourage fertility from 1949 to 1953: limiting birth control and induced abortion. In August 1949, Mao Zedong said that “of all the things in the world, man is the first one that can be precious. Under the leadership of the Communist Party, as long as there are people, any miracle on earth can be created. ” In April 1950, the Ministry of health and the Ministry of health of the Military Commission jointly issued measures to prohibit illegal abortion. In December 1952, the Ministry of Health issued the Interim Measures for restricting birth control and induced abortion. In January 1953, the Ministry of Health informed the customs to prohibit the import of contraceptives and contraceptives.

The second is the loose family planning stage from 1954 to 1977: from birth control to “late scarcity” policy. The first population census in 1953 found that the population of the whole country was 602 million, which greatly exceeded the government’s expectation. At the same time, the lag effect of the population explosion was gradually reflected, and the birth control policy was gradually put forward. In March 1955, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposed that “birth control is a major policy issue related to the life of the broad masses of people.” In September 1956, Zhou Enlai reiterated the policy of “advocating birth control” at the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China. In February 1957, Mao Zedong proposed at the Supreme State Council that “human beings should control themselves and achieve planned growth”. In 1958, the great leap forward movement made the idea of “more people, more power” become the mainstream. Ma Yinchu’s “new population theory” of population control was criticized. With the failure of the great leap forward and the impact of natural disasters, China entered a three-year difficult period from 1959 to 1961, and the birth control policy was put forward again. In December 1962, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued “instructions on seriously promoting family planning”, and in January 1966, the CPC Central Committee issued “instructions on family planning”. But then the Cultural Revolution began, and family planning work was impacted.

In July 1971, the State Council demanded that “during the period of the fourth five year plan, the natural growth rate of population should be reduced year by year, and strive to reduce it to about 10 ‰ in urban areas and below 15 ‰ in rural areas by 1975.”. In the formulation of the “fourth five year plan” that year, it was proposed that “one is not enough, two are just right, and three are more”. In December 1973, the first national report meeting on family planning put forward the policy of “late, rare and few”. “Late” refers to the marriage of the male after 25 years old and the female after 23 years old, and the birth of the female after 24 years old; “rare” refers to the birth interval of more than 3 years; “less” refers to a couple having no more than two children.

The third is the strict family planning stage from 1978 to 2013: one child policy, “one and a half child” policy, “two only two child” policy, and one vote veto of family planning. Since the beginning of reform and opening up in late 1978, most areas of economy and society have shifted from government planning to market regulation, but the right to bear has been further centralized by the government from the family. In March 1978, “the state promotes and promotes family planning” was first written into the constitution. In October 1978, the central government explicitly proposed that “it is recommended that a couple should have one or two children at most.”. In February 1980, Xinhua news agency released a report on China’s 100 year population forecast, saying that if the fertility trend remains unchanged, China’s population will reach 4 billion by 2050, causing a shock. In September 1980, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued an open letter to all members of the Communist Youth League on the issue of controlling China’s population growth, requiring each couple to have only one child. Since then, the “one-child policy” aimed at controlling the fertility rate of one generation has been launched and implemented in the whole country. In September 1982, the national policy of family planning was written into the report of the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and implemented into the Constitution in December of the same year, that is, “the state promotes family planning to make the population growth adapt to the economic and social development plan”, “both husband and wife have the obligation to implement family planning”. At that time, Changde City of Hunan Province took the lead in implementing the “one vote veto system for family planning”, which was later implemented throughout the country.

Because of the great resistance, in April 1984, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China appropriately “opened small openings and blocked large openings” for some rural areas, and the rural areas of 19 provinces in China gradually adjusted to the “one and a half child policy”, that is, those who give birth to a girl at the first birth can have another child. The “population and family planning law” passed at the end of 2001 and implemented in September 2002 stipulates that if both parties are only children and have given birth to one child, they can give birth to a second child. According to the law, the policy of “two children and two children” has been formulated and implemented in Henan Province in 2011, the latest in China. According to the statistics of Cai Fang (2018) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, before 2010, the one-child policy covered 35.9% of the total population, the one-and-a-half-child policy covered 52.9%, the two-child policy covered 9.6%, and the three-child and above policy covered 1.6%.

Fourth, since 2014, the family planning stage has been relaxed: from “single two child” to “comprehensive two child”. In 2013, the Ministry of health and the National Family Planning Commission were merged into the national health and Family Planning Commission. In November of the same year, the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee decided to launch the policy of “two children alone”. Due to the poor effect, the “comprehensive two child” policy was implemented in 2016, and the population and family planning law was revised as “the State encourages a couple to have two children”. In 2018, the national health and Family Planning Commission will no longer be retained, and the National Health Commission will be established. This is the first time since the establishment of the National Family Planning Commission in 1981 that there is no “family planning” name in the State Council departments.

1.2 evolution of fertility: the fertility rate is in the doldrums, the overall two child effect is fading, and the birth population is about to decline sharply

The comprehensive two-child policy is not as expected, and the fertility accumulation effect has subsided. After a drop of 2 million people born in 2018, the number of people born in 2019 will drop by another 580000 to 14650000. Since the founding of the people’s Republic of China, there have been three baby booms in China: 21 million in 1950-1958, 26.28 million in 1962-1975, 22.46 million in 1981-1994, and then gradually declined to 16 million in 2003-2012, including 16.35 million in 2012. China’s total fertility rate dropped from about 6 before the 1970s to about 2 in 1990, and then to about 1.5 after 2010. The fourth baby boom was supposed to come after 2010, but it disappeared because of the long-term strict implementation of family planning. Under the above background, the one-child policy was finally loosened. At the end of 2013, the central government decided to implement the two-child policy alone, and at the end of 2015, the central government decided to fully liberalize the two-child policy, but the effect was not as good as expected. Neither the two-child policy alone nor the two-child policy could reverse the depressed fertility trend. From 2013 to 2015, the birth population was 1640, 1687 and 1655 million respectively. At the end of 2015, the central government decided to fully liberalize the two-child policy, with the birth population reaching 17.86 million in 2016, the peak since 2000; however, it dropped to 17.25 million in 2017, 2 million to 15.23 million in 2018, and 14.65 million in 2019.

The significant narrowing of the birth population in 2019 is mainly due to the significant narrowing of the marginal reduction of the number of women of childbearing age and the basically stable fertility rate. The reduction of the number of births of one child and two children is significantly narrower than that in 2018. From the data of women of childbearing age, in 2016-2019, the number of women of childbearing age aged 15-49 decreased by 4910000, 3980000, 7150000 and 5020000 respectively. Among them, the number of main women of childbearing age aged 20-35 who had more than 85% children decreased by 1940000, 26480000, 3980000 and 3310000 respectively. In 2018, the number of main women of childbearing age decreased by 1.34 million more than in 2017, and in 2019, it decreased by 670000 less than in 2018. From the perspective of fertility level, according to our estimation, the total fertility in 2016 rose to 1.7, significantly higher than that in 2015, slightly lower in 2017, significantly lower to about 1.5 in 2018, and basically flat in 2019. From the perspective of international comparison, China’s total fertility rate is not only lower than the global average of 2.47, but also lower than that of high-income economies of 1.67. From the number of child births, the number of one child born in 2015-2019 is 879, 981, 713, 629 and 593 million respectively, the number of two children born is 658, 715, 892, 760 and 747 million respectively (the data in 2019 is estimated), and the number of three children born and above is 118, 90117, 134 and 1.25 million respectively (the data in 2019 is estimated). In 2016, the number of births increased by 1.31 million, mainly because the number of one child increased by 1.32 million, accounting for 78%, and the number of two children increased by 570000, only slightly higher than the increase of 530000 in 2015. In 2017, the comprehensive two child effect began to appear obviously, although the number of one child decreased by 2.68 million in that year, the number of two children increased by 1.77 million; in 2018, the number of births decreased by 2 million, mainly due to the following reasons In 2019, the number of births of one child and two children will decrease by 360000 and 130000 respectively, contributing 62% and 22% of the total birth reduction respectively.

From the long-term trend, due to the gradual disappearance of fertility accumulation effect and the continuous decline of the scale of women of childbearing age, the current birth population is still in a period of rapid decline, which is expected to further drop to less than 11 million in 2030. From the perspective of the proportion of births with two or more children, the proportion of births with two or more children increased sharply from 45% – 47% in 2015-2016 to 58.6% in 2017, 58.7% in 2018 and 59.5% in 2019. No child has two or three children. After the fertility accumulation effect disappears, the proportion of one child will return to the normal level higher than that of two children. From 2016 to 2019, the one child birth population will drop by nearly 40%, to a historical low of less than 6 million, indicating that the birth population will decline significantly. According to the data of women of childbearing age, the number of women of childbearing age aged 20-35 reached a peak of 186 million in 1997, dropped to 167 million in 2006, rose slightly to 173 million in 2013, and then continued to decline to 2031, rebounded in 2032-2038, and continued to decline after 2039. Among them, the number of women of childbearing age aged 20-35 in 2030 will be reduced by about 28% compared with that in 2019, and it will be reduced by about 20% in 2050 compared with that in 2030 19%。 According to the current trend forecast, China’s birth population will continue to rapidly decline to less than 11 million in 2028, stabilize in 2029-2036, and continue to decline to about 8 million in 2050 after 2037.

1.3 impact: the labor force is shrinking, the aging is accelerating, the population is about to peak, the demographic dividend is disappearing, and the problem of remaining men is serious

1) The scale of labor force continues to shrink, and it will be significantly reduced by 23% in 2050 compared with that in 2019. After the reform and opening up in 1978, China has rapidly grown into the world’s second largest economy relying on the huge and young labor resources and the huge market related to it. During 1962-1975, the second round of baby boomers was the main force of construction in the 40 years of reform and opening up. More production and savings and less consumption led to the increase of savings rate and investment rate. The excess of savings over investment resulted in trade surplus. At the same time, the increase of excess liquidity and per capita income promoted consumption, and the potential economic growth was higher. Under the background of long-term low fertility rate, the proportion and size of working age population aged 15-64 in China peaked in 2010 and 2013 respectively, while the proportion of working age population in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom peaked in 1991, 2009 and 2013 respectively, and the per capita income at that time was much higher than that in China. In 2019, China’s working age population will drop to about 990 million, and China’s total employment will decline for the first time in 2018. According to the current trend, by 2050, China’s working age population will be reduced by 230 million to 760 million on the basis of 2019, or about 24%. According to the 2010 census data, the population of the post-80s, post-90s and post-00s are 219 million, 188 million and 147 million respectively. The post-90s are about 31 million less than the post-80s, and the post-00s are 41 million less than the post-90s. As the total supply of labor continues to shrink, labor costs will rise day by day. Some manufacturing industries have begun and will continue to migrate to Southeast Asia, India and other places. From the marginal point of view, China’s demographic dividend has ended, facing the situation of “getting old before getting rich”. In the future, the savings rate and investment rate will gradually decline, the consumption rate will gradually rise, and the potential economic growth rate will decline. From the absolute level, the total dependency ratio of China’s population is about 40%, and it will still be in the “population opportunity window” (less than 50%) with relatively light population burden in the future.

2) The aging of population will accelerate and enter into a deep aging society in 2022.

Due to the unprecedented speed and scale of China’s aging in family planning, China’s aging will reach 12.6% in 2019. In 2022, China will enter a deep aging society with a proportion of more than 14%. In 2033, it will enter a super aging society with a proportion of more than 20%. After that, it will continue to rise rapidly to about 35% in 2060. In 2019, the proportion of China’s population aged 65 and above in the total population will be 12.6%, up 0.7 percentage points from 2018. Compared with the historical data, the degree of population aging is accelerating; from 2001 to 2010, the degree of China’s aging has increased by 0.2 percentage points annually, and from 2011 to 2019, it has increased by about 0.4 percentage points annually. From the perspective of developed countries, it took 126 years for France, 46 years for Britain, 40 years for Germany and 24 years (1971-1995) for Japan to transition from an aging population of more than 7% aged 65 or above to a deep aging population of more than 14%; it took 28 years (1990-2018) for France, 36 years (1972-2008) for Germany and 24 years (1971-1995) for Japan to transform from a deep aging population to a super aging population of more than 20% It took 11 years (1995-2006). In 2001, more than 7% of China’s population aged 65 or above entered an aging society. It is estimated that China will enter into a deep aging society in 2022, that is, in 21 years, and then enter into a super aging society in 11 years, that is, around 2033. After that, it will continue to rise rapidly to 29.5% in 2050 and 35.2% in 2060. After a period of stabilization, it will rise again to about 40% in 2084 and beyond. Moreover, due to the large population base, the scale of China’s elderly population is unprecedented. China’s population aged 65 and above will reach 176 million in 2019, 376 million in 2050 and 414 million in 2058. By that time, there will be one elderly person aged 65 or above in every three Chinese people. Moreover, the aging problem will become increasingly prominent. In 2019, there will be more than 32 million elderly people aged 80 or above in China, accounting for 2.3%. It is estimated that in 2030, 2050, 2073 and 2100, the proportion will be 3.8%, 10.3%, 17.1% and 20.8% respectively. In addition, from the perspective of the median age of the population, the median age of China’s population increased from 21.9 years to 36.5 years from 1980 to 2015, and is expected to rise to 43.0 years and 50.7 years in 2030 and 2050, respectively. Internationally, in 2015, the median age of the population in the United States, Europe, Japan and India were 37.6, 41.4, 46.4 and 26.8 years old respectively, and by 2050 they will be 42.7, 47.1, 54.7 and 38.1 years old respectively. By 2050, the median age of China’s population will be significantly higher than that of the United States, Europe and India, restricting its international competitiveness.

When the proportion of the elderly population in the United States, Japan and South Korea reaches 12.6%, the per capita GDP is more than 24000 US dollars, while that in China is only 10000 US dollars. From the perspective of international comparison of aging level, China’s aging degree ranks 61st among global economies in 2019, 2.2 percentage points higher than that of upper middle income economies. In 2019, the global population aged 65 and above will account for 9.1%, while the high-income and upper middle-income economies will account for 18.0% and 10.4% respectively; the top three economies in terms of global aging degree are Japan, Italy and Portugal, accounting for 28.0%, 23.0% and 22.4% respectively. According to the international comparison of the degree of aging and the level of economic development, the per capita GDP of the United States, Japan, South Korea and China reached US $10000 respectively in 1978, 1981, 1994 and 2019. At that time, the population aged 65 and above accounted for 11.2%, 9.2%, 5.8% and 12.6% respectively. In 1990, 1992, 2015 and 2019, the population aged 65 and above accounted for 12.6% in the United States, Japan, South Korea and China. At that time, the per capita GDP was US $24000, US $30000, US $27000 and US $10000 respectively.

The aging population makes the contradiction between social security revenue and expenditure increasingly prominent, and the pension gap will increase. In 2019, the balance of social insurance fund revenue and expenditure is 585.5 billion yuan, and the actual surplus after excluding financial subsidies is – 1353.8 billion yuan, which is negative for seven consecutive years. Endowment insurance accounts for 70% of the social security system. In 2018, the actual surplus of endowment insurance fund was – 450.4 billion yuan, which was negative for six consecutive years. The current social security gap mainly lies in the historical debt, that is, in the planned economy era, state-owned enterprises run the society, and some people do not pay insurance premium before retirement, but enjoy pension benefits. In November 2017, the State Council issued the implementation plan for transferring part of the state-owned capital to enrich the social security fund, which requires that 10% of the state-owned equity of enterprises be transferred to supplement social security before the end of 2020. However, with the deepening of population aging, the pension gap will become increasingly prominent, which is also a common problem facing the world. From the perspective of China’s urban employees’ basic endowment insurance fund, the payment time of China’s accumulated balance gradually decreased from 18.5 months in 2012 to 13.7 months in 2018, and the dependency ratio (number of employees / retirees) decreased to 2.55. In 2018, four provinces were unable to make ends meet, the accumulated balance of 18 provinces could be paid within 12 months, and the dependency ratio of 8 provinces had been reduced to less than 2; Heilongjiang endowment insurance fund continued to be unable to make ends meet since 2013, and the accumulated balance turned negative in 2016. Moreover, with the aggravation of aging, the pressure of medical expenditure will become greater and greater. According to the national health service survey, from 2003 to 2013, the two-week prevalence rate (number of patients / number of people surveyed) of residents in China’s survey areas increased from 14.3% to 24.1%; among them, the prevalence rate of the population aged 65 and above increased from 33.8% to 62.2%, and the prevalence rate of the elderly population in 2013 was 2.58 times of the average level.

3) China’s population has exceeded 1.4 billion, but it is about to fall into negative growth.

China’s population will exceed 1.4 billion in 2019, and the 1.42 billion expected by the national population development plan (2016-2030) in 2020 will not be realized. In 2019, China’s total population will be 140.05 million, exceeding 1.4 billion for the first time, an increase of 4.67 million over 2018. The population growth will continue to narrow, and the natural growth will gradually slow down. In 1949, China’s population (excluding Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese) was 540 million, reaching 1 billion in 1981 and 1.4 billion in 2019. It took 12 years for China’s population from 800 million to 1 billion, 14 years from 1 billion to 1.2 billion, and 24 years from 1.2 billion to 1.4 billion. According to the national population development plan (2016-2030) in 2016, China’s population is estimated to be 1.42 billion in 2020. To achieve this target, China’s population will increase by about 20 million in 2020, which is obviously impossible. The reason for the wrong prediction in the national population development plan (2016-2030) is that it overestimates the impact of the comprehensive two child policy on the fertility rate. It thinks that the total fertility rate in 2015 is between 1.5 and 1.6, and it is expected that the total fertility rate in 2020 and 2030 will be 1.8 respectively. It further predicts that China’s population will reach a peak of 1.45 billion around 2030.

The United Nations also overestimates China’s population growth, and the plan predicts that it will reach a peak of 1.46 billion in 2031. The UN World Population Outlook (2019) has nine prediction schemes for China’s population. The middle scheme assumes that China’s total fertility rates in 2015-2020, 2020-2025 and 2025-2030 are 1.70, 1.72 and 1.73 respectively, and then predicts that China’s population will reach a peak of 1.46 billion in 2031. In addition, the low scenario assumes that China’s total fertility rates will be 1.45, 1.32 and 1.23 in 2015-2020, 2020-2025 and 2025-2030 respectively, and the population will reach a peak of 1.45 billion in 2024.

We predict that China’s population will fall into negative growth during the “fourteenth five year plan” period. From around 2050, China’s total population will shrink sharply. By 2100, China’s population will fall to less than 800 million. By then, China’s population proportion in the world will drop from about 19% to 7%. Compared with the generational replacement level of 2.1, the total fertility rate of about 1.4 means that the total population will shrink by about 1 / 3 every other generation. For example, the current total fertility rate in South Korea is 0.98, which means that the population of South Korea will decrease by more than 50% every other generation. Although China’s total fertility rate is about 1.5 in 2019, with the disappearance of fertility accumulation effect, the fertility rate will further decline. Even if the total fertility rate is estimated at 1.4, China’s population will reach its peak around 2022; if the total fertility rate is 1.3 or 1.5, China’s population will reach its peak in 2021 and 2024. After the population peaked, it shrank slowly in the first 25-30 years, but with the birth population in the high fertility period of 1962-1975 entering the end of life, the rate of shrinkage will be significantly faster. In 2050, China’s population will decrease by only 9% compared with 2022, 22% compared with 2050 in 2075, and 25% compared with 2075 in 2100, that is, to about 750 million. In 1950, China’s population accounted for 22% of the world’s total. In 2019, it will decrease slightly to about 19%, and in 2100, it will decrease sharply to about 7%. With the shrinking population, China’s big market advantage will gradually lose, and its comprehensive national strength will also be affected.

4) Since the 1980s, the sex ratio at birth has been seriously unbalanced, and the problem of “remaining male” has become increasingly prominent. The gender imbalance between post-90s and post-90s is very serious, and the sex ratio at birth once exceeded 120. In 1982, China’s sex ratio at birth was 107.6, which exceeded 110 in 1990 and nearly 118 in 2000, and then exceeded 120 for a long time. After 2008, it began to decline continuously and dropped to 111.9 in 2017. According to the 2010 census data, the sex ratio of post-90s is 119, nearly 13 million more men than women; the sex ratio of post-90s is 110, nearly 9 million more men than women. The sex ratio of unmarried people born in 1980s and 1970s was 137 and 308 respectively. In 2015, the number of unmarried men aged 30 and above in China has exceeded 20 million, and it is expected to exceed 40 million by 2040. In 1990, there were just over 10 million unmarried men aged 30 and above in China, more than 16 million in 2000 and more than 20 million in 2015. From the perspective of urban and rural distribution, the problem of “remaining men” in rural areas is more serious than that in cities and towns. In 2015, the unmarried rate of men over 30 years old in rural areas was 5.7%, higher than 4.3% in cities and 3.6% in towns. From the perspective of education level, the unmarried rate of men who have not gone to school is as high as 15%, followed by those who have delayed entering the marriage market due to further study, and the unmarried rate is as high as 9%. With the birth population with high sex ratio gradually entering the marriage age since 1990, it is estimated that the problem of “remaining male” will become more prominent in the future, which may reach about 40 million by 2040. The marriage squeeze problem of “personal distress” may evolve into the population security problem of “public problem”, including women’s business, sexual harassment, sexual crime and so on.

5) Millions of families have lost their only child. The death of the only child may cause the whole family to collapse, and the functions of raising, supporting, economy, education and socialization will gradually weaken or even disappear. Relevant studies show that there are more than one million families in China, and the number of “families with lost only child” increases by 76000 every year. In addition, there are a large number of “families with disabled only child”.

Why not? ——Weakening of birth base and restriction of birth cost

2.1 fertility Theory: from the decline of mortality to the decline of utilitarian fertility intention, and then to the cost constraint

Human history can be divided into four stages according to the changes of the leading factors driving the decline of fertility: 1) high mortality driving stage, people need to fight against high mortality with high fertility, and the total fertility rate is more than 6. In the period of agricultural civilization, the direct cost of raising children is very low, the leisure time of agricultural production is more, and the opportunity cost is low. Moreover, the labor-intensive agricultural production mode determines that the expected economic benefits of raising children are high. Farmers can only rely on raising children for old age, and the family status is closely related to the prosperity of the population. Backward public health conditions, frequent wars and other factors lead to the death rate as high as 20 ‰ or more than 30 ‰, which makes the people have to compete with the high mortality rate with the high fertility rate. 2) In the driving stage of mortality decline, people realize that low fertility rate can also ensure the maximization of income, and the total fertility rate can be reduced from more than 6 to about 3. With the rapid improvement of public health conditions and medical technology, the mortality rate continues to decline. Human beings no longer need to fight against the high mortality rate with high fertility rate. The fertility rate decreases with the progress of contraceptive technology. From the international experience, most of these natural changes have a time lag of 15-25 years. From 1950 to 1970, China’s death rate dropped from about 20 ‰ to 8 ‰, and China’s total fertility rate dropped from 5.8 to 2.7 from 1970 to 1978. 3) In the declining stage of utilitarian fertility, people’s fertility behavior is closer to emotional needs, and pay attention to the improvement of children’s quality. The total fertility rate is roughly reduced from 3 to 2. As the mortality rate has dropped to a low level, the leading factor affecting fertility behavior has turned into the problem of income. With the development of economic and social modernization, the direct cost of having children is rising, especially after the general improvement of education level and women’s more participation in employment, which makes the opportunity cost of having children rise; and in terms of income, spiritual income is not related to income, while utilitarian income decreases, which leads to the decline of the number of willing children. Moreover, the rising income makes the family demand more for the quality of children. This gradually makes the family’s fertility behavior away from utilitarianism, close to the emotional needs of a man and a woman, and the total fertility rate is about 2. This kind of change happened in China from 1979 to 1990. In addition to the influence of family planning policy, it also lies in the rapid progress of industrialization and urbanization after the reform and opening up, the development of township enterprises and the large number of rural population moving to cities to work. 4) In the low fertility stage of cost constraint, the total fertility rate falls below the replacement level 2, which is lower than the desired fertility level. In modern society, the further decline of fertility rate is not due to the decrease of the number of people’s desire to have children, but mainly due to the increase of cost, which leads to the failure of people’s desire to have children. The gap between the actual fertility level and the desired fertility level depends on the cost.

2. Late marriage and late childbearing, single DINK and infertility weaken the fertility foundation

1) China’s marriage rate continued to decline after peaking in 2013, and the divorce rate showed an upward trend; the phenomenon of late marriage and late childbearing became increasingly prominent, and the average age of first childbearing was postponed from 24.1 years old to 26.3 years old from 1990 to 2015. Compared with the United States and Europe, the proportion of children born out of wedlock is as high as 40% – 60%. In China, the proportion of children born out of wedlock is less than 10%. Therefore, the first problem of fertility in China is marriage. In 2013-2019, the number of married couples decreased from 13.469 million to 9.471 million, with a decrease of 29.7%. The crude marriage rate decreased from 9.9 ‰ to 6.8 ‰. The number of divorces increased from 3.5 million to 4.154 million, with an increase of 18.6%. The crude divorce rate increased from 2.6 ‰ to 3.0 ‰. The divorce ratio (divorce logarithm / marriage logarithm) increased from 26.0% to 43.8%. From 1990 to 2010, the average age of first marriage for men was postponed from 23.6 years to 25.9 years, and that for women was postponed from 22.0 years to 23.9 years. The average age of first marriage for women and men exceeded that of late marriage in 1996 and 1998, respectively. According to the statistics of the Ministry of civil affairs, the proportion of marriage registrations (including remarriage) aged 20-24 decreased from 47.0% to 21.5% in 2005-2018, and the proportion of marriage registrations aged 25-29, 30-34 and over 35 increased from 34.3%, 9.9% and 8.8% to 36.3%, 15.5% and 26.7% respectively.

The phenomenon of late childbearing has become increasingly prominent. From 1990 to 2015, the average age of first childbearing for women was postponed from 24.1 to 26.3, and the average childbearing age (all children) was postponed from 24.8 to 28.0. In 1990, the main childbearing age and the main childbearing age were 20-27 years old, with 86.6% and 74.9% having one child and children respectively. By 2015, the primary childbearing age was postponed to 22-29 years old, and the proportion of having one child dropped to 66.7%; the primary childbearing age was postponed to 23-30 years old, and the proportion of having children dropped to 59.1%. In addition, from 1990 to 2015, the proportion of one child born to elderly women over 30 years old increased from 4.2% to nearly 19.2%, and the proportion of children born increased from 14.0% to 32.3%. According to the census data in 2015, the average age of giving birth to one child, two children, three children and above were 26.3, 29.6 and 32.0 years old respectively, and the proportion of giving birth to children was 72.0%, 73.5% and 69.5% respectively.

In addition, more and more families choose DINK after marriage, especially in the more developed first and second tier cities. A survey conducted by the gender and cultural research center of Shenzhen Academy of Social Sciences in 2003 showed that the proportion of Ding Ke family in Shenzhen registered residence was about 10%, and it was on the rise. According to the July 2018 issue of the Study Times published by Liu Jiaqiang, Deputy Secretary General of the CPPCC, there were 600 thousand households in China in 2010, and there was a trend of increasing trend.

2) Due to the marriage market matching problems and singleness, the number of “leftover women” has rapidly increased to about 6 million, and the higher the education level, the greater the probability of “leftover women”. In the marriage market, women prefer men who are not lower than their own conditions, while men prefer women who are not higher than their own conditions. This means that even if the sex ratio in the marriage market is balanced, the best women and the worst men are most likely to be left behind. In 1990, there were only 460000 unmarried women aged 30 and above in China, more than 1.54 million in 2000 and 5.9 million in 2015. Among them, the unmarried rate of women aged 30-34 increased from 0.6% to 7.0%. From the perspective of urban and rural distribution, the unmarried rate of urban women aged 30 and above was 2.4% in 2015, which was significantly higher than 1.0% in towns and 0.9% in rural areas. From the perspective of education level, the unmarried rate of women aged 30 and above with graduate degree is as high as 11%, which is much higher than 5% of women with undergraduate degree and below.

3) The increase of infertile population weakens fertility. Delayed childbearing age, environmental pollution, unhealthy lifestyle and lack of reproductive health protection lead to the increase of infertility rate. The best childbearing age for women is 25-29 years old, and that for men is 25-35 years old. Studies have found that the fertility of 35 year old women is about 50% of that of 25 years old, and it will drop to 50% of that of 35 years old when they are 40 years old. Reversal of day and night, sedentary, no exercise, long-term use of electronic products, smoking, drinking, environmental pollution, high-intensity radiation and so on can lead to the decline of male sperm quality. According to the study of 113000 samples in the Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University in 2018, the quality of male semen showed a significant decline from 2005 to 2014.

2.3 the direct cost of housing, education and medical treatment is large, the burden of providing for the aged is heavy, the opportunity cost is high, and the fertility behavior is inhibited

The high direct costs of housing, education and medical care are the “three big mountains” that inhibit fertility behavior. The “four two one” institutions have heavy burden of family support and squeeze fertility. Women’s labor participation rate is high, but the employment rights and interests are not guaranteed enough, which leads to high opportunity cost.

1) With the rapid rise of housing prices and the pressure of residents’ debt, the ratio of housing loan income increased from 16.2% to 47.6% from 2004 to 2018. Since the housing reform in 1998, the overall price of housing has maintained a sharp rise, which has brought great pressure on families to raise their children and buy houses for their children. From 1998 to 2018, the average price of new commercial housing in China rose from 1854 yuan / flat to 8544 yuan. From 2004 to 2018, the balance of individual house purchase loans in China increased from 1.6 trillion yuan to 25.8 trillion yuan, an increase of 16.1 times, accounting for more than 50% of the balance of residents’ loans, up from 54% in 2018. The ratio of housing loan income (balance of individual house purchase loan / disposable income) increased from 16.2% to 47.6%, and the ratio of household debt income (balance of household debt / disposable income) increased from 28.6% to 88.4%. In reality, there are many residents through consumer loans, credit loans and other forms of housing funds, the actual housing loan income ratio may be higher.

2) The cost of education has increased significantly, especially the supply of public kindergartens is seriously insufficient. From 1997 to 2019, the proportion of students in public kindergartens in China will drop from 95% to 44%. At present, the cost of education mainly includes kindergarten tuition and miscellaneous fees, kindergarten and early and high school guidance class fees, university tuition and living expenses, etc. According to the sampling statistics of sina education’s “2017 white paper on China’s family education consumption”, the expenditure on pre-school education accounts for 26% of the family’s annual income, 21% for compulsory education and high school education, and 29% for university education. The sharp decline in the supply of public kindergartens, many families are forced to choose expensive private kindergartens, is an important reason for the high cost of preschool education. In 1997, the number of public kindergartens accounted for 86.5%, and the number of people in kindergartens accounted for 94.6%. Since 2001, a large number of kindergartens have been promoted to run schools in the society. In addition, a large number of primary and secondary schools at the grass-roots level have been withdrawn and merged, especially in rural areas. As a result, the number of kindergartens in rural areas, counties and towns, and cities has decreased by 40000, 15000, and 9000 respectively. From 2001 to 2019, the number of kindergartens in China will increase from 112000 to 281000, the number of public kindergartens will decrease from 67000 to 48000 in 2010, and then rise to 108000 in 2019, the proportion will drop from 60.1% to 30.7%, and then rise to 38.4%; however, the proportion of public kindergartens in China will not rise, from 83.1% to 43.8%. The proportion of public kindergartens in cities, counties, towns and rural areas decreased from 75.5%, 74.8% and 90.6% to 34.7%, 43.2% and 57.2% in 2018. In addition, at present, the parents of dual employees are facing the problem of picking up and sending their children from primary and secondary schools. In many places, parents are even required to correct students’ homework and explain wrong questions, which gradually turns into “homework turns into parents’ homework”, “teachers reduce the burden, parents increase the burden”.

3) Medical expenses continued to rise. From 1995 to 2018, residents’ health care expenditure increased by 27 times, far exceeding the increase of disposable income by 9.2 times. Due to environmental pollution, increasing pressure on work and life, and aging population, the prevalence rate is rising, and the medical cost is also rising, which affects family fertility decision-making. From 2004 to 2018, the average number of Chinese residents visiting medical institutions rose from 3.07 to 5.95, and the hospitalization rate rose from 5.1% to 18.3%. In 2018, the average outpatient cost of public tertiary hospitals was 322 yuan, the average hospitalization cost per capita was 13313 yuan, and the average daily hospitalization cost was 1390 yuan. Under this influence, from 1995 to 2018, the per capita medical and health care expenditure of national residents increased from 62 yuan to 1685 yuan, up 27.2 times, far higher than the increase of 11.1 times of per capita disposable income and 10.1 times of per capita consumption expenditure; its proportion in consumption expenditure increased from 3.2% to 8.5%, of which the urban area increased from 3.1% to 7.8%, and the rural area increased from 3.2% to 10.2%.

4) The “four two one” family structure of one-child couples has a heavy burden on providing for the aged, squeezing the desire to have children. The only child families of the post-80s and post-90s are faced with the “four two one” family structure, that is, four old people, a couple and a child. According to Wang Guangzhou (2013), a demographer of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the number of only children in China was estimated to be about 145 million in 2010, with an annual increase of more than 4 million under the current fertility policy. It is estimated that the number of only children in 2018 will be about 180 million. If both couples are only children, they need to support four old people. If they have another two children, the pressure of life will be greater, and the burden of providing for the aged will form a significant squeeze on the desire to have children. If the current fertility situation does not change, with the age of marriage and childbearing after 00 in the future and the life expectancy of the elderly extended, some families may even face the “8421” family structure, that is, eight elderly people, four parents, a couple and one child.

5) Women’s labor participation rate is high, but their employment rights and interests are not guaranteed enough, which leads to the high opportunity cost of childbearing. According to the statistics of the international labor organization, from 1990 to 2019, China’s female labor participation rate (aged 15 and above) will drop from 73.2% to 60.6%, a sharp drop of 12.6 percentage points, but it is still at a high level in the world. In 2019, the global female labor participation rate will be 47.7%, with 55.8%, 51.2%, 51.4% and 23.4% in the United States, the European Union, Japan and India respectively. At the same time, although there are many laws and regulations to protect women’s employment rights and interests in China, gender discrimination in the workplace is still relatively serious. From 1990 to 2019, the gap between women’s labor participation rate and men’s labor participation rate in China has expanded from 11.6 percentage points to 14.8 percentage points, while the gap between men’s and women’s labor participation rate in the world, the United States, the European Union and Japan is narrowing.

3. International experience: what is the effect of encouraging fertility?

3.1 OECD experience: which is the most effective way to encourage fertility?

As early as the mid-19th century, Britain, Switzerland and other countries began to take measures to protect women’s reproductive rights. In 1919, the International Labor Organization issued three major initiatives, namely “12 week leave, work protection and income compensation”, which laid the basic guidelines for OECD countries’ fertility policy. The framework of fertility support policies in OECD countries is generally similar, but the effect is divided due to different measures and support. According to the trend of fertility rate, it can be roughly divided into two categories: one is the countries represented by France and Sweden, whose total fertility rate has risen to more than 1.8; the other is the countries represented by Germany and Japan, whose total fertility rate has stagnated at about 1.4.

In OECD countries, the policy system of encouraging childbirth is often based on the establishment of specialized agencies. The policy mainly includes four aspects: guaranteeing leave, increasing economic subsidies, providing nursery and child care services, and strengthening women’s employment support. Many countries have set up special departments for family affairs, such as the German department for family affairs, the elderly, women and youth in 1995, and the British Department for family policy in 1997. China has set up a National Family Planning Commission for population control since 1981, which was changed into the national health and Family Planning Commission in 2013 and the National Health Commission in 2018. The main policies to encourage fertility are as follows:

First, legislate to guarantee leave. Many OECD countries have set 3-5 months of maternity leave and 6-35 months of parental leave. The average maternity leave is 4.5 months, the average parental leave is 9.2 months, and the average paternity leave is 1 week. In 2016, 75% of OECD countries had 3-5 months of maternity leave, with an average of 18 weeks; 56% of OECD countries had 6-35 months of parental leave, and 12 countries had no parental leave, with an average of 37 weeks in OECD countries. Parenting leave is generally used after maternity leave for a longer period of time. There are differences in the salary level that women can enjoy during their vacation in different countries, and they are adjusted to 100% of their usual salary for horizontal comparison. The average total vacation of women in OECD countries is 30 weeks, among which, the total vacation length of Estonia and Hungary is 85 weeks and 72 weeks, ranking the top; Australia and New Zealand are 7.6 weeks and 7.7 weeks respectively, ranking the bottom. In China, maternity leave is 14 weeks without parental leave. In practice, it is generally assumed that maternity leave is 18-23 weeks with 7-30 days of paternity leave.

However, there is a weak correlation between the length of women’s leave and the fertility rate, which is due to the contradiction between extending women’s leave time and protecting their employment rights and interests. Too long maternity leave may make women face greater discrimination and exclusion in the workplace, raise the employment threshold and reduce career promotion opportunities. For example, the total length of female childbearing leave in Germany is 42.6 weeks, but the fertility rate in 2017 is only 1.57; while the total length of leave in Britain is 11.7 weeks, but the total fertility rate is 1.79. Therefore, the protection of women’s leave must be synchronized with the measures of standardizing the labor market, strengthening the protection of women’s labor rights and interests, and improving the paternity system. For example, in France, there are 14 days of paternity leave for men, and parents in Sweden, France and Germany can share parental leave. The improvement of father’s maternity leave system not only encourages husband and wife to share the responsibility of family affairs and child care, but also reduces the impact of men and women on fertility to a certain extent.

Second, economic subsidies should be granted. In 2015, the average ratio of family welfare expenditure to GDP in OECD countries was about 2.4%. There was a certain correlation between the ratio of family welfare expenditure and fertility level. In 2015, except Turkey, the proportion of family welfare expenditure in GDP in OECD countries was in the range of 1% – 4%, with an average of 2.4%. France accounted for 3.7%, with the highest proportion, while Turkey accounted for 0.4%, with the lowest proportion. The higher the proportion of family welfare expenditure, the higher the fertility level. For example, in Iceland, the proportion of family welfare expenditure was 3.4% in 2015, and the total fertility rate was 1.71 in 2017; in South Korea, the proportion of family welfare expenditure was 1.4%, and the total fertility rate was 1.05 in 2017. In China’s new personal tax reform in 2018, the education expenses of children aged 3 and above will be included in the scope of pre tax deduction, with a fixed amount of 1000 yuan / child / month.

Third, a large number of kindergartens will be built. In 2017, the average enrollment rate of 0-2 years old in OECD countries was 35.0%. The higher the enrollment rate, the higher the fertility level. Most OECD countries support child-bearing through government building new kindergartens and encouraging the development of private kindergartens. In 2017, the 0-2-year-old child-care rate of most OECD countries was between 10% and 60%, with an average of 34.2%. In addition, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and other countries have also introduced policies to encourage grandparents to take care of their children from generation to generation, so as to reduce the pressure of parents. According to Tencent education’s white paper on nursery services for 0-3-year-old children, the enrollment rate of 0-3-year-old children in various nursery institutions in China is only 4.1%, and intergenerational care is very common.

Fourth, strengthen the protection of women’s employment rights. The smaller the employment gap between men and women, the higher the fertility rate. OECD countries attach great importance to the protection of women’s employment rights. For example, public services led by the Swedish government provide a large number of jobs for women. Germany, South Korea, Japan and Singapore all provide training for women’s re employment after childbirth. According to the world bank, from 1990 to 2019, the labor participation rate of women (aged 15 and above) in OECD members increased from 47.8% to 51.5%, and the gap between the labor participation rate of men and women decreased from 26.1 percentage points to 16.8 percentage points. Generally speaking, the smaller the employment gap between men and women in a country means that women’s employment rights are better protected, and the higher the fertility rate. For example, the employment gap between men and women in Sweden was only 3.0 percentage points in 2018, and the total fertility rate in 2017 was 1.78; while the employment gap between men and women in Italy was 18.1 percentage points, and the total fertility rate in 2017 was only 1.32. The median income gap between men and women in OECD countries decreased from 15.6% to 13.5% in 2006-2016. From 1990 to 2019, China’s women’s labor participation rate will drop from 73.2% to 60.6%, and the labor participation rate gap will expand from 11.6 percentage points to 14.8 percentage points.

3.2 France: actively promote the balance between family and work, and the total fertility rate is close to 2

As early as before World War II, France began to encourage childbearing, and achieved the balance between work and family by improving the detailed subsidy system, diversifying kindergarten services and creating a family friendly enterprise atmosphere. The total fertility rate reached 1.88 in 2018. In the early 18th century, France had the largest population in Europe, but with the declining birth rate, the population of France increased slightly from 38.48 million to 39.23 million from 1901 to 1911, falling to the fifth place in Europe. As early as 1920, France introduced the “anti abortion law” to curb the decline of birth rate. In 1939, France promulgated the family code, which is the source of French family policy. Since then, France has continuously introduced and improved policies to encourage fertility, and achieved results. According to the world bank, the total fertility rate in France was 2.74 in 1960, dropped to 1.93 in 1975, which was lower than the replacement level. It further dropped to 1.66 in 1993, which was the lowest in history, but rose to 1.88 in 2018.

France has taken the following measures: 1) guaranteed leave, including 16 weeks of maternity leave, 11 days of paternity leave and one year of shared parental leave. According to the official website of the French government, there are currently 16 weeks of maternity leave in France, including 6 weeks of prenatal leave and 10 weeks of postpartum leave. The employer does not provide wages during maternity leave, but CPAM provides an allowance of 9-86 euros per day. The exact amount depends on the salary of the person on leave. France has 11 days of paternity leave for men, during which they receive the same daily allowance as maternity leave. France has also set up a one-year parental leave, which couples can share. Only one month in advance to apply to the employer, the employer can not object. Employers do not pay during the child care leave, and caf will provide an allowance of 396 euro per month.

2) In 2015, French family welfare expenditure accounted for 3.7% of GDP, ranking first among OECD countries. At present, France has established a relatively perfect and diversified subsidy system, covering many links such as child birth, rearing, nurseries, and subsidies for parents’ income loss, and there are obvious differences in the amount of subsidies according to family income and the number of children. According to OECD data, in 2015, French family welfare expenditure accounted for 3.7% of GDP, ranking first among OECD countries, higher than 2.4% of the average level of OCED.

3) With a perfect child care service system, the attendance rate of children aged 0-2 in France reached 56.3% in 2017, which is far higher than the OECD level. French child care service system is complete, including: collective reception institutions such as collective nurseries, family reception institutions such as kindergarten assistants, family care institutions such as nannies, entertainment receptionists, etc. Either way, the French family allowance fund (CAF) will provide financial assistance. If a nanny is asked to take care of the child at home, the employer will pay at least 15% of the cost. According to OECD data, France’s 0-2-year-old child care rate was 56.3% in 2017, ranking fourth among all OECD countries, higher than the OECD average of 35%.

4) Large enterprises join hands to create a family friendly business atmosphere. The gap between men’s and women’s labor participation rate in France is less than 10%. In 2012, about 400 large enterprises in France signed the articles of Association for parents and employees of companies, covering about 3 million employees, accounting for about 10% of the labor force, setting flexible working hours and minimum working hours for employees; opposing the corporate culture of workaholic nature, refusing to work extra long hours and overtime; promoting the promotion of female employees; promoting fathers to use full pay paternity leave, etc. According to the world bank, women’s labor participation rate in France in 2019 is 50.2%, and the gap between men’s and women’s labor participation rate is only 9.5 percentage points, less than the OECD average of 16.83 percentage points. According to OECD data, the median income gap between men and women in France in 2016 was only 9.9%, less than 13.5% of the OECD average.

5) Immigrants account for about 10%, 45% of which are from Africa, which also plays a role in the increase of fertility rate in France. According to the French Bureau of statistics, there were 6.36 million immigrants in France in 2017, accounting for 9.6% of the total population in 2017, up from 5% and 7.4% in 1946 and 1975. Among them, 44.9% came from Africa and 35.4% from Europe. The proportion of immigrants from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia is 12.9%, 12.1% and 4.5%. The fertility rate of immigrants from North Africa is higher, which plays an important role in the rise of fertility rate in France. Moreover, the number of immigrants in France has changed from male to female, and the proportion of female immigrants increased from 44% to 51% from 1968 to 2017.

3.3 Japan: the traditional gender division of labor intensifies the contradiction between work and family, the total fertility rate remains at about 1.4, and the population situation is grim

Japan began to encourage fertility in the 1990s, but the total fertility rate remained at 1.4 in 2018. The low fertility rate led to a peak in 2008 and a 53% decrease compared with the peak in 2100, and the aging degree of Japan was the highest in the world. Japan’s total fertility rate was about 3 in 1950, which continued to drop to 2.05 in 1974, to 1.26 in 2005, the lowest in history, and only rose to 1.42 in 2018, which has not yet returned to the ideal level. Under the background of long-term low fertility rate, Japan’s population peaked at 128 million in 2008. According to the forecast in Japan’s statistical yearbook, by 2050, Japan’s population will drop to 102 million, about 20% less than the peak, and by 2100, Japan’s population will drop to less than 60 million, 53% less than the peak. In addition, Japan is the country with the most serious degree of aging in the world. From 1950 to 2019, the proportion of the population aged 65 and above increased rapidly from 4.9% to 28.5%, of which the proportion of the population aged 80 and above increased from 0.4% in 1950 to 7.5% in 2015. It is estimated that the proportion of the population aged 65 and above in 2050 and 2100 will reach 37.7% and 38.3% respectively.

1) After World War II, Japan’s family policy has experienced three stages: population control, population stabilization and fertility encouragement. 1948-1970 is the period of controlling population growth. From 1947 to 1949, Japan experienced the first baby boom. A total of 8.02 million people were born in three years. The birth rate rose rapidly from 26.4 ‰ in 1945 to 32.9 ‰ in 1949. Japan began to study how to curb population growth. In 1948, the Japanese government issued the eugenics protection law, which implemented fewer and better births and relaxed the restrictions on induced abortion. In 1949, the Japanese House of Representatives decided to improve and popularize the “family plan” and distribute contraceptives and contraceptives free of charge. 1971-1989 is a period of stable population size. From 1971 to 1973, the second baby boom in Japan appeared. In 1974, Japan’s total fertility rate fell below the replacement level for the first time. In 1974, Japan’s Ministry of health, health and labor took the stationary population as a new strategic goal of population development.

Since 1990, it has been the stage of encouraging fertility. In 1990, the total fertility rate dropped to 1.57, which made Japanese society realize the current situation of low fertility rate and began to encourage fertility, covering vacation, economic subsidies, nursery and other aspects. In terms of leave, Japan has set up 14 weeks of maternity leave, October parental leave and 8 weeks of male parental leave. According to Japan’s Ministry of health, labor and welfare, at present, Japanese women can enjoy six weeks of prenatal and eight weeks of postpartum maternity leave; during maternity leave, they can get the same production allowance as before; after maternity leave, they can take 10 months of child care leave before their children are one year old; the actual allowance during child care leave can reach up to 80% of their salary before the leave. In addition, Japanese men also have 8-week parental leave. If they take parental leave during the maternity leave of women, they can apply for another 8-week parental leave two months before the child is one year old.

In terms of economic subsidies, Japanese women who give birth can receive a one-time temporary maternity payment of 420000 yen and a monthly subsidy of about 10000 yen for children (under 12 years old). Japanese women can get a one-time temporary maternity payment of 420000 yen for childbirth and a subsidy for raising children. Within the income limit, a family raising a child under three years old can get a child subsidy of 15000 yen per month; a family raising a child from three years old to primary school can get 10000 yen per month if it has two children or less, and 15000 yen per month if it has three children or more.

In terms of kindergartens, Japan has expanded its kindergartens through three “angel programs” and formulated the “zero combat for standby children” plan. Japan implemented the “angel plan” in 1994, the “new angel plan” in 1999, and the third phase of the “angel plan” in 2004, focusing on expanding kindergarten services. In 2001, the Japanese government formulated the plan of “zero combat for standby children”, and in 2008, the plan of “zero combat for new standby children”, with the intention of reducing the number of “standby children” who need to enter nurseries but can only wait in line at home due to lack of facilities and manpower to zero.

In terms of improving the employment environment, Japan creates a better business environment for parenting families. In 1999, Japan formulated the basic policy for the Countermeasures of reducing the number of children, in 2003, the basic law for the social countermeasures of reducing the number of children, and in 2004, the outline for the social countermeasures of reducing the number of children, so as to improve the employment environment, social health care, education environment and living environment to promote fertility. If employees have children under 3 years old, they can apply to the company for shortening the working hours to 6 hours per day; if employees have preschool children, they can’t work overtime for more than 24 hours per month, etc.

2) Japan’s encouraging fertility policy has not achieved remarkable results. First, it missed the best time to adjust the fertility policy and failed to adjust it earlier and in time. Japan missed the best time to adjust its fertility policy. In 1974, the total fertility rate fell below the replacement level, but it did not encourage fertility until after 1990. In France, the total fertility rate fell below the replacement level in 1975, but it began to encourage fertility as early as 1939.

Second, Japan’s efforts to encourage fertility are weak, with family welfare expenditure accounting for only 1.6%, ranking the bottom among OECD countries. According to the National Institute of social security and population issues of Japan, from 1980 to 2014, the proportion of household expenditure in GDP in Japan only increased from 0.47% to 1.34%. According to OECD data, Japan’s household welfare expenditure accounted for only 1.61% of GDP in 2015, which was lower than the average level of 2.40% in OECD 32 countries, ranking the bottom among OECD countries. In terms of kindergartens, according to OECD data, Japan’s 0-2-year-old enrollment rate in 2017 was only 29.6%, lower than the OECD average of 35.0%, and far lower than France’s 56.3% and Sweden’s 46.6%.

Third, the gender division of labor in Japan is relatively common, and gender discrimination in the workplace is serious. More and more Japanese women give up marriage and childbearing. From 1990 to 2015, the lifetime unmarried rate of women over 50 years old surged from 4.3% to 14.6%. Different from Finland, Sweden and other countries which socialize part of the work of child care and old-age care and assume it by the state, the responsibility of child care and old-age care in Japan is mostly undertaken by family women. The idea of positioning women’s role as full-time housewives still exists, and the idea of “male dominating the outside and female dominating the inside” is more common. According to the world bank, in 2019, Japan’s female labor participation rate reached 51.4%, lower than the OECD average of 51.5%; in 2019, the gap between male and female labor participation rate in Japan reached 19.0%, higher than the OECD average of 16.8%. According to OECD data, in 2018, Japan’s gender employment gap was 14.3 percentage points, higher than the OECD average of 11.1 percentage points; in 2016, the median income gap between men and women in Japan’s full-time employees was 24.6%, higher than the OECD average of 13.5%. More and more Japanese women are choosing (temporarily) to give up their families and enter the workplace. According to the National Institute of social security and population in Japan, the lifetime unmarried rates of men in 1990, 2010 and 2015 were 5.6%, 20.4% and 23.4% respectively, while those of women were 4.3%, 10.6% and 14.6% respectively. Japanese society has formed a concept of unwilling to marry and have children, which is hard to return.

4. Policy suggestions: fully liberalize and encourage fertility immediately

4.1 abandon the concept that population is a burden, make people-oriented and accelerate the long-term balanced development of population

Both Malthus’s “population theory” in 1798 and Rome club’s “the limit of growth” in 1970s underestimated the effect of technological progress and the change of production relations on the development of productive forces, and overestimated the trend of population growth, thus drawing the conclusion that only by restraining population growth can we achieve development. In the long run, technological progress and changes in production relations will bring about a huge increase in productivity, which is enough to achieve the coordination of population and development. For China, if it does not implement a strict family planning policy, the fertility rate will gradually decline and the population growth will slow down, but the demographic dividend will end later, and it will not face such a complex and severe demographic structural problem.

Population is an important support and symbol of a country’s national strength. From the perspective of Chinese history, population growth is often an important symbol of the flourishing age. The flourishing age of Kaiyuan and KangQian were not the peak of population. Internationally, India is considered by many people to have great potential for development, just because of its huge population size and very young population structure. In 2015, the median age of India was only 26.7 years old, while that of China and the United States was 37.0 and 37.6 years old respectively. By 2050, the median age of China’s population will be 50 years old, while that of the United States and India will be 42.3 and 37.5 years old respectively. Can China rely on such a population structure to achieve national rejuvenation? Of course, the quality of the population is also very important. With the improvement of education level, the demographic quality dividend will partially offset the impact of the disappearance of the demographic quantity dividend.

Man is the basic element and driving force of development, and all economic and social development is for man. At present, the rapid development of artificial intelligence has caused some people to discuss whether China still needs to liberalize fertility. There are three aspects to pay attention to: first, the population development problems such as aging, “leftover men” and families without one child can not be solved or are very difficult to solve by artificial intelligence. Second, there are many jobs that need emotional communication in economic society, which I am afraid artificial intelligence can not replace. Third, even if artificial intelligence can completely replace human labor, then people can do other things that are more conducive to the realization of all-round development and happiness. According to PwC’s 2018 report “the net impact of artificial intelligence and related technologies on employment in China”, artificial intelligence and related technologies will replace about 26% of the existing jobs in China in the next 20 years, but they can also create a large number of new jobs by improving productivity and real income level. The net impact on employment in China is to create about 12% of the net jobs. From the perspective of human development history, every scientific and technological progress will save the use of labor in traditional industries, but it also gives birth to the demand for labor in new economy and new industries.

4.2 it is necessary to release the right to bear immediately and let the right to bear return to the family

The right to have children or not, how many children to have and when to have them will be returned to families, and each family will decide the number of children to have. “Immediately” is due to the urgent population situation, which is currently in the birth window period of the third wave of baby boomers. The peak of the third round of baby boom was in 1987. The population born in the middle and late period was still in the main childbearing age before 35 years old, especially the population born after 1990 was still in the best childbearing age of 25-29 years old. Once we miss the third round of baby boom, we will get twice the result with half the effort if we want to increase the birth population in the future. In addition, the full liberalization should be carried out as soon as possible rather than later.

With the full liberalization of child-bearing, people who did not want to have children will still not have children. However, some people who want to have three children can have children, so they do not have to worry that some people and some areas will have a large number of children, leading to a sharp increase in the number of births. This kind of worry is just like some people predicted that after the implementation of the “comprehensive two-child” policy, the birth population will usher in a surge, but it is not the case. According to the statistics of the National Bureau of statistics, the total fertility rates of China’s rural areas in 2010 and 2015 were 1.44 and 1.27 respectively, and the total fertility rates of one child, two children, three children and above in 2015 were 0.61, 0.53 and 0.13 respectively. This means that rural residents are not willing to have children, and 60% of them are willing to have two children, let alone three.

4.3 accelerate the construction of fertility support system and vigorously encourage fertility

Fertility is a family affair from the micro perspective, and a national affair from the macro perspective. Due to the poor effect of the “comprehensive two child” policy, it is expected that the full liberalization will not significantly change the fertility situation. We must speed up the construction of the fertility support system, vigorously create a fertility friendly social environment, relieve the worries of family (RE) fertility, and let more people want to have, dare to have and raise their children well.

One is to implement differentiated personal tax deduction and economic subsidy policies, covering from pregnancy and health care to the end of 18 years old or academic education. To explore the establishment of a comprehensive encouraging fertility system from pregnancy health care to pregnancy delivery to the end of 18-year-old or academic education, including pregnancy health care subsidies, hospital delivery subsidies, child care subsidies, education subsidies, family tax deduction, and direct economic subsidies for low-income people who do not meet the income tax standards. Moreover, according to the actual situation, different regions can further differentiate on the basis of national policies.

The second is to increase the supply of child care services, vigorously improve the 0-3-year-old child care rate from the current 4% to 40%, and provide subsidies for inter generational care. We will vigorously encourage and support employers and social forces to set up nurseries for infants and young children, and form a service network of full day care, half day care, time care and temporary care. At the same time, subsidies are provided to grandparents who take care of their grandparents, so as to improve the enthusiasm of grandparents’ care and reduce the pressure of parents’ care.

Third, we should further improve the protection of women’s employment rights and interests, implement preferential tax policies for enterprises, and speed up the construction of a reasonable and effective sharing mechanism of childbearing costs among the state, enterprises and families. On the one hand, we should further promote the implementation of maternity leave, lactation leave and other systems, properly solve the problem of extending maternity leave and paternity leave for men, and impose economic or administrative penalties on units that damage women’s employment rights and interests. On the other hand, according to the size of female employees and the annual fertility situation, a certain degree of tax incentives should be implemented to reduce the fertility costs borne by enterprises. Maternity insurance and employee medical insurance began to merge pilot in 2017, which is expected to be implemented nationwide, which is conducive to expanding the coverage of maternity insurance and improving the convenience.

Fourth, strengthen the protection of the equal rights of illegitimate childbearing. Although it is not encouraged to give birth out of wedlock, women and their children who give birth out of wedlock still need to be given all equal rights, especially in settling down and entering school, and no discrimination is allowed.

Fifth, increase investment in education and health care, maintain long-term stability of housing prices, and reduce the direct cost of raising. We will increase investment in pre-school education, vigorously increase the supply of public kindergartens, extend nine-year compulsory education to 12 years, and promote education reform to effectively eradicate the phenomenon of “homework becoming parents’ homework”. Increase medical investment, promote the reform of medical and health system, and effectively reduce medical expenses. We should adhere to the orientation of “housing without speculation”, build a long-term mechanism for the healthy development of the real estate market, improve the housing market system and housing security system, and let all people live in their own homes.

From: Zeping macro

Read more: Evergrande Research Institute: China Fertility report 2019 (download attached) Zeping macro: China Fertility report 2019 people’s Bank of China: questionnaire survey report on urban depositors in the first quarter of 2019 people’s Bank of China: China’s monetary policy implementation report in Q1 2018 (download attached) sharing opportunities: the impact of China International Import Expo on the commercial real estate market (download attached) China unification Ministry of Commerce: foreign investment absorption in 2017 Ministry of Finance: lottery sales in 2020: 333.951 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 20.9% National Bureau of Statistics: per capita disposable income data of residents in 31 provinces of China in 2020 Shanghai, Beijing and Zhejiang ranked in the top three of Hurun China’s professional managers list: the largest number in Ali Department National Bureau of Statistics: investment and sales of national real estate development from January to December 2020 National Bureau of Statistics: Residents’ income and consumption expenditure in 2020 December 2020 China’s dairy trade monthly report Haiguan Administration: December 2020 volume value table of national import key commodities (US dollar value) General Administration of Customs: December 2020 Monthly volume value table of national key export commodities (US dollar value)

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