Foreign Policy Digital

Get Ready for China’s Baby Quotas

Demographic fears mean a hard future for women's rights.

After decades of China’s one-child policy, it became obvious to Beijing’s leaders that they were staring down the barrel of a demographic gun. With an aging population and a rapidly shrinking labor force, more children were vital if the country was going to maintain economic growth. That’s why, at the end of 2015, the one-child policy became the two-child policy—prompting eager anticipation of a baby boom in state media.

That boom never appeared, to the consternation of many. There’s a simple reason why: The cost of raising a child in China is at an all-time high and getting more expensive; doubling or tripling that budget is an insurmountable task for many. It’s a common pattern in developed countries, where birthrates fell even without government pressure.

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