Humpday Recommendations: Doing Business in China, Jazz on Screen, Looking for a Mom, Vargas at 20


The problem. For decades, the CCP worried about overpopulation, and in 1978 told Chinese families that they could only have one child to contain the growing population size. (This was in response to Mao Zedong encouraging people to have lots of babies in the early 1950s.) But his most recent census data from 2020 shows that after years of restricting the number of births, the Chinese population is now decreasing – rapidly.

This demographic trend is a major problem for China, currently vying to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. From Beijing’s point of view, it is also not helpful for the emerging economies of Asia and Africa to see exactly the opposite trend.

Some experts blame the rising costs of housing, education and childcare as the downward trend, which has seen China’s population grow at its lowest recent rate since the 1950s.

Indeed, this shift strikes at the very heart of China’s new economic model, which focuses on stimulating domestic consumption to reduce dependence on exports, as well as increasing the number of workers to support the country’s aging population. It’s pretty simple: Beijing wants more people in the country to buy and produce more things.

Women as a tool for economic growth. To solve this problem, the CCP implemented a series of “family planning” laws aimed at increasing birth rates. After 35 years, they lifted the infamous one-child policy in 2016, encouraging Chinese couples to have two children. Then it became three.

And Xi always pulls out all the stops. To slow divorce rates, the CCP also recently imposed a mandatory “cooling off” period before divorces can be finalized. Now they are restricting access to abortion, although details remain extremely scarce.

What’s more, health officials have also reportedly discouraged women from having Caesarean sections, saying they increase the risk of complications in a subsequent pregnancy. If you are a Chinese woman, President Xi is not only in your bedroom, but also in your delivery room.

The government may want Chinese women to become baby-making machines, but after decades of using fear and punishment to limit family expansion, it will take a seismic psychological shift for many Chinese women and men embrace the idea of ​​having more children.

Unexpected consequences. For now at least, the easing of family planning rules is not going as Beijing might have expected. Part of the problem is that social policies and workplace discrimination laws have not caught up with the government’s reproductive plans.

In the past, employers knew that women would only take maternity leave once, so if a mother with one child was interviewed for a job, you knew she was a safe bet. But as they can now have up to three children, this is no longer the case. The proof is in the data: A survey found that Chinese companies were 75% more hesitant to hire women after the two-child policy was introduced, while anecdotal evidence suggests discrimination against pregnant women and women. women of childbearing age is commonplace. This dynamic certainly does not help Beijing to integrate Following people in the labor market.

In addition, there are no national regulations on maternity leave, which means that women are often excluded from the labor market once they have given birth. And while China has invested heavily in infrastructure development, for example, there has been little public investment in child care. For many Chinese families, maintaining 24-hour private child care could exceed what a woman could earn in a factory or office. Unlike many parts of Asia, the participation of women in the labor market is high in China, but this is changing.

Social engineering. China’s economic ambitions are often seen through the prism of flashy projects like its Belt and Road Initiative. But her human engineering activities at home, where women’s autonomy is increasingly threatened, are also a crucial part of her major economic projects.

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