Poplulation Media - Concerned with the consequences of demographic decline and population ageing, especially with respect to economic growth, national defence and pensions and health care for the elderly, a growing number of governments are seeking to raise birth rates. Whereas nearly 40 years ago 13 countries had policies to raise fertility, today the number has increased four-fold to 56, representing more than one-third of the world’s population. The most recent and largest addition to this pronatalist group of countries, which includes Australia, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey, is China.
The Chinese government announced that it will change its controversial one-child policy to a two-child policy per couple in order to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population. Assuming a slight increase in its current fertility level, China’s population of 1.38 billion is projected – according to the UN medium variant – to peak by 2030 at 1.42 billion and then decline to 1 billion by the end of the century (Figure 1). However, if fertility were to remain constant at its current level, China’s population would soon begin declining, reaching around 0.8 billion by the year 2100. If fertility were to instantly reach the replacement level, an unlikely event, China’s population would grow to 1.51 billion by midcentury.