Zero Covid, Zero Babies – Corona’s politics beat the desire to have children in China

HONG KONG (August 09) (Reuters) – China’s strict non-proliferation policy is discouraging more and more women from having children. Claire Jiang, for example, changed her life plans during the week-long lockdown in the economic capital Shanghai: She no longer wanted to have children in China. “There is no way I want my children to grow up insecure in a country where the government can come to your door and do whatever they want,” says the 30-year-old who works in the media industry. Studies have shown that epidemics and economic insecurity affect birth rates worldwide. But in China specifically, the zero-Covid policy, where any outbreak is immediately quelled with severe restrictions on people’s lives, may have severely affected people’s desire to have children, demographers say.

Während der Lockdowns in Shanghai und andernorts in China häuften sich Berichte uber Menschen, die Einkommensverluste erlitten oder keinen Zugang zu medizinischer Versorgung oder Lebensmitteln hatten, oder über Behöwalerdensam, ändänzärne änd äs änd bring. In April and May, the hashtag “We are the last generation” went viral on Chinese social media before it was censored. The ruling was intended to commemorate the reaction of a man contacted by authorities in hazardous materials lawsuits who threatened to punish three generations of his family if they failed to comply with coronavirus regulations. “It hit me hard,” Jiang says.

China’s population may shrink

According to demographers, people’s perceived loss of control over their lives can have a huge impact on their desire to have children. “China’s zero-coronavirus policy has resulted in zero-economy, zero marriages, and zero fertility,” said Chinese demographer Yi Fuxian. Chinese authorities, in turn, have repeatedly argued that strict policy is necessary to save lives, citing millions of deaths worldwide, compared to the 5,226 officially reported in China since the pandemic began.

The United Nations predicted in a report released in July that China’s population of 1.4 billion would begin to shrink early next year, with India overtaking China as the world’s most populous country. UN experts assume that China’s population will decline by 109 million people by 2050 – more than triple projections for a decline in 2019. The epidemic is also likely to have a long-term impact on first births, with many women fearing for their financial security. The difficulties of pregnancy and infant care amid strict restrictions.

“Couples who might have been thinking about having a baby next year have definitely postponed it. Couples who weren’t really sure postponed it indefinitely,” said Justin Coulson, UNFPA representative in China. According to demographic experts, newborns will decline. To a record low this year: from 10.6 million last year to less than 10 million – that will be 11.5 percent lower than it was in 2020. Evaluation of maternity and infant products on Baidu, China’s top search engine. It will reduce the number of births by one million in 2021 and 2022 combined, and this trend will increase in 2023.

A good career instead of a good mother

China – which pursued a one-child policy from 1980 to 2015 to stave off population growth – has officially acknowledged that it is on the verge of demographic contraction. The fertility rate of 1.16 births per woman in 2021 is below the OECD standard of 2.1 for a stable population and among the lowest in the world. For about a year, authorities introduced measures such as tax cuts, longer maternity leave, improved health insurance, housing benefits, extra money for a third child, and a crackdown on expensive private tutoring. However, Chinese women’s desire to have children is the lowest in the world, according to a February survey by YuWa Population Research.

According to Peter MacDonald, professor of demography at the University of Melbourne, one of the main reasons for low birth rates is gender inequality. China ranks 102nd out of 146 countries. Demographers assume that the measures taken so far are not enough. They also point to high training costs, low wages and long working hours known as issues that still need to be addressed, as well as coronavirus policies and concerns about economic growth. 25-year-old financial analyst Jiahui Wu notes that societal expectations of a good mother are also high. “It seems easier to be a good father,” she said. “I’d rather have a good career.”

Zero Covid, Zero Babies – Corona’s politics beat the desire to have children in China

Copyright: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022

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