Lessons From China’s Adoption Of ‘Three-Child Policy’ For India
China implemented the ‘three-child policy’ last week. It reversed the ‘one-child policy’ introduced by the ‘Dragon’ in 1979. At the same time, Indian states like Uttar Pradesh and Assam recently proposed bills to control the birth rates in their states. The draft bills for the ‘two-child policy’ were introduced by both these states, earlier this year.
The ‘4-2-1’ Problem
The fertility rate in China fell to 1.3 in 2020. For India, the FR stood at 2.2. The ideal replacement value of the fertility rate, according to the World Bank is 2.1. Below this, the country does not have enough births to sustain their present population size. This puts additional financial pressure on the young population to take care of the elderly. In terms of demography, this is called the ‘dependency ratio’. Many countries including Japan and China are now facing the impact of a worsening dependency ratio.
In a paper published for Georgetown University Washington, DC, Tabitha Michelle Powell said, “One child was expected to provide financial support for two parents and four grandparents while at the same time saving for his or her own retirement.” This is called the ‘4-2-1 family structure problem’. In the case of rigorous population control measures, UP and Assam may face the same difficulties.
‘Will Be Counter To What The Government Intends’
Talking to BW Businessworld, Dr Abhijit Das, Director, Centre for Health and Social Justice in India said, “A sterilisation focussed Population Control Policy which UP proposes will accelerate the birth rate as couples may quickly complete their intended family size to obtain the sterilisation certificate which assures public services.” The draft bill proposed by UP promises special benefits like promotions and increments to the couples adopting the two-child rule. “In the short run, the Birth rate may increase rather than go down…This will be counter to what the government intends”, he further stated.
The workforce can be defined as the total number of people who are able to and can work. According to NBS, China’s workforce fell to 897.29 million in 2018. It fell by 0.5% for the seventh straight year. UP has a large migrant population. According to National Capital Region Planning Board, 45.16% of all the migrants to the Delhi-NCR region come from the state of Uttar Pradesh. The already faltering domestic economy of Uttar Pradesh depends largely on its remaining workforce.
One of the worst impacts of the population control policy in China was the worsening of the sex ratio. The number of females per 1000 males has constantly declined in the younger population in China since the adoption of the one-child policy. Along with it, sex-selective abortions have constantly risen. In UP, the sex ratio is already at a very low. According to Census 2011, the state has 912 females per 1000 males. A lower sex ratio, according to the data on Statista, often leads to an increase in the cases of violence against women, lower pay and unequal workplace rights.
Reversal Of The Policy
Talking to BW Businessworld, S Irudaya Rajan, Chairman, International Institute of Migration and Development, Kerala, said, “The current population policy (three child policy) approved in China, will not have any short-term implications and it will be only on the paper. However, we have to wait and see its long-term implications.”
China, earlier this year, decided to support the families with their finances, taxes, insurance, education etc and help families to share the burden of an additional child. This is being considered to reverse the ill effects of the ‘one-child policy’. However, how much it will succeed is still uncertain.
According to Dr Das, “What we need instead, is a stronger focus on building our population resource, that is train our youth, improve their skills and competencies.”
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