Skip to comments.China's Birth Policy: National Suicide or Atheists' Desperate Ploy?
Posted on 05/20/2011 8:05:43 PM PDT by dangus
China has claimed for several years a national fertility rate of 1.8 children born per female of child-bearing age. The latest census figures, released just weeks ago, report about 220 million children aged 0-15. This is consistent with a fertility rate of only 1.4. So why the discrepancy?
Why would China lie about failing to reach a birth rate goal that it has succeeded in reaching? If China is lying about having as many as 1.8 children per female, doesn't that suggest that China finds it more advantageous to report the higher birth rate?
The birth dearth in China is frighteningly large in scope. The population of children has declined by 85 million just since the last census, ten years ago. Meanwhile, the Chinese baby boomers are exiting their fertile years; the largest, earliest wave of the boom is set to enter their late 40s. The Economic Observerreports that within ten years, the number of 19 to 22 year olds will drop 43%.
For now, China's overall population is stable, even still rising, but this is because the population of elderly and middle-aged Chinese is exploding so fast as to offset the decline in the number of young people. But what happens when these "baby boomers" cease being economically active, or begin to die?
What's also strange is the way the international community is playing along. The United Nations, the U.S. Census Department and the C.I.A. all report that the number of babies being born in China is set to begin to increase. Based on what? The fertility rate is not increasing; China has announced that they will not be changing their birth-restricting policies; and the number of fertile women is set to collapse as the "baby bust" generation moves into its fertile years while the baby boom generation leaves theirs. The truth is that in order to maintain the number of babies being born, the fertility rate must double, and the Chinese government has recently reiterated that it will refuse to allow it to increase.
In fact, the precedent from other societies is that it might go down further. The Chinese population is rapidly urbanizing, going from less than a third urbanized to a majority urbanized in just the last ten years. And its economic growth pattern suggests an acceleration of urbanization. Yet it's the urban population with the lowest birth rate, a factor not just of government policy but of economics: in an agrarian society, more children means more laborers within the family to support the parents as they age, whereas in an urban society, more children means less investment income on which to base retirement. (a global population decline would change these economic rules, but that's another topic, and an effect still decades off.) Reversing its declining fertility rate may not be easy, as the low fertility rate may be becoming natural: nations like Germany, Japan, Italy and Korea have still lower fertility rates, merely as a function of urbanization.
It's worse still: the Chinese demography is becoming increasing male-dominated, since gender-selective abortion and infanticide has become so common, and male survival rates are higher (as opposed to Western civilization, where female survival rates are higher). There are now 18% more young men than young women. History actually contradicts fears that this will result in international aggression (Nazi Germany actually was demographically female-dominated), but it means that the fertility potential for China is actually falling faster than the population statistics indicate.
Even at the current, unrealistic projections, China could soon be shedding 15 million people per year.
So is the Chinese birth rate policy officially-mandated cultural suicide?
The atheism of the Chinese Communist Party is challenged by two religions, Christianity and Falun Gong. Both are morally opposed to abortion, and both resist birth-control measures. Both suffer terribly from forced abortions and torture imposed by the CCP, in contradiction of official policies. Here I begin to speculate, despite being not particularly knowledgeable of Chinese culture: As a culture of death becomes more institutionalized among the atheist populations, I would speculate that the reversal of fertility declines would disproportionately emerge among religious and dissident groups; further, the end of the one-child policy would also remove a motivation for local officials to harass and persecute the religious.
If you kill off the girl babies in order to have males you are not going to increase your birth rate, but it will actually decline, fewer females, fewer babies being born. Especially with a one child per couple birth mandatory birth rate.
Christianity, and Falun Gong, but many Chinese are Buddhist, and more than a few Taoist, which are not mentioned in the article.
Rodney Stark has done some work on this subject in reference to the culture of death among the Roman civilization and the culture of life among the early Christians. He was trying to understand how the provincial Christian religion became a world religion in just 300 years. These numbers were part of the calculation.
Taoists and Buddhists aren’t much in evidence from Xi’an to the East Coast. In Tibet (which isn’t really China) you will find Buddhists, and perhaps there are some of them and Taoists in the more remote areas. But, in the thousands of miles I’ve traveled in China I have only seen significant numbers of Christians, materialists (you could call them atheists or agnostics, but they really don’t think of themselves that way - in fact, they don’t think in theological terms at all), Falun Gong, AND (this is the real omission in the article) Mohammedans.
I didn’t mention it because I haven’t known most Buddhists to be oppressed overpopulation issues, or growing the way Christianity and Falun Gong are. Tibetan Buddhism is different from the Buddhism in China proper; the Buddhism of Chinese proper is more of a philosophy than a religion.
Taoism ranges from a folk religion, to an irreligious philosophy. My understanding is that Chinese folk religion is precisely that which Chinese Communism has largely successfully destroyed. But again, I’m way outside my expertise with that assertion.
By the way, the sparsely populated West in China is Islamic, which also commonly opposes Chinese population policies, but is also very sparsely populated and not growing.
Correction: Taoism was almost dead before the Communists, according to Wikipedia:
“By the beginning of the 20th century, Taoism had fallen so much from favor, that only one complete copy of the Daozang still remained, at the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing.”
The Chinese population is rapidly urbanizing, going from less than a third urbanized to a majority urbanized in just the last ten years.
Flat lie, most people still live in the countryside. China has a LOT of people. You know how the American countryside is pretty much empty except for some cows and a few pickup trucks? The Chinese countryside is rural but hardly unpopulated...it's packed full of people. Everywhere.
The selective-sex thing isn't because Dad wants an heir to carry on the family name. It's because there's no social security in China thus the son's potential income is the Mom & Dad's retirement plan. Any daughter goes to live with her husband and takes care of her in-laws in their old age. Now you understand why they're such fanatics about education?
The atheism of the Chinese Communist Party is challenged by two religions, Christianity and Falun Gong.
The biggest howler of the entire uninformed post. Christianity is tame and Falun Gong is a weirdo cult.
The amount of "people making shit up" about China is astounding in the West. This is the kind of junk I'm used to reading from foreign journalists based in Beijing.
Wow, you have a lot of unnecessary hostility.
“flat lie, most people live in the countryside.” It’s a “flat lie” that I got directly from media reports on the census data (although I will say, that in double-checking, I get a figure of 49.7, slighly less than a majority.) Can’t you disagree without calling someone a liar? (Also, with a billion people in a country no larger than the U.S., I’d rather presume that the countryside is hardly an empty one.)
>> Only in the cities, and only to majority members of the Han race, does one-child apply. The 55 other races of China suffer no such restriction. <<
Most of the horror stories of forced abortion come from the rural areas. But the notion that ethnic minorities may be exempted would explain why Christians and Falun Gong are facing persecution that traditional minorities like the Uighurs and Mongols have not.
>> The selective-sex thing isn’t because Dad wants an heir to carry on the family name. It’s because there’s no social security in China thus the son’s potential income is the Mom & Dad’s retirement plan. <<
Yes, I dealt with that aspect from the point of view of why urban societies tend to naturally have lower birth rates.
>> The biggest howler of the entire uninformed post. Christianity is tame and Falun Gong is a weirdo cult. <<
Yes, Christianity is tame, and yes, Falun Gong is a wierdo cult. That in no way contradicts my assertion that they pose challenges to atheism. Again, why the bizarre hostility, though?
Doing some further research, I find that Wikipedia assertion about the decline of Chinese-folk (”Shen”) Taoism flatly contradicted.
A slightly higher birth rate (from lack of contraception), a slightly lower infant mortality rate (no infanticide) and a lower death rate in pandemics (from care for the ill, hospitals) and lower death rate from starvation / neglect (care for widows and orphans) gives an evolutionary advantage of higher growth and lower death rates.
Christians made more descendants, raised the ones they gave birth to, had children raised by their co-relgionists even if they didn’t survive, and had a lower death rate than pagan neighbors from the social support network.
Christianity was pro-life in all regards, and that was a drastic evolutionary advantage.
Interesting post. Thanks.
How much of this difference from official and unofficial birth rates are the girls abandoned in orphanages or kept secret until registered for school?
I forgot to thank you for this interesting post. I remember reading with some interest about how steady the growth of Christianity was. The Catholic church continued to grow at an strangely uniform rate, even amidst the Islamic invasions and Protestant reformation.