China Relaxes Child-Bearing Policy

“Last week, China’s government said that couples will be able to have a third child, a decision meant to spark more babies in a country where population growth has hit a wall,” the Morning Brew reports.

“Family planning restrictions have existed in China since 1980, when the government instituted a one-child-per-household policy out of fear it wouldn’t have the resources to provide for a swelling population. China relaxed that cap to two children in 2015 but, following the pandemic’s baby bust, it’s realizing it needs to confront this problem more urgently.”

“There were 12 million births in China in 2020, down 18% annually and the fourth straight year of declines. Demographers expect the country’s population, currently at 1.4 billion, to peak by 2025. Declining population growth has profound implications for a country’s economic success. Fewer babies = fewer future workers. And it could upend existing systems of support for the elderly, because younger workers’ taxes subsidize public services for retirees.”

This isn’t just a China problem, though. Warnings of a “demographic time bomb” or a “demographic winter” are being raised in countries around the world. The Brew points to:

  • South Korea’s rate of births per woman fell to 0.84 last year, the lowest in the world. For reference, the “replacement” rate that would keep a population stable is about 2.1. 
  • The US population grew at its slowest rate since the Great Depression from 2010–2020, and its birth rate declined for the sixth straight year last year.
  • Germany doesn’t have enough people to fill its cities. It’s taken down 330,000 housing units since 2002.  

Why does this matter to followers of Jesus Christ? In Genesis 1:28 God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

The current cultural mood is about controlling the size of a family. Couples are putting off having kids until later and later in life. Families are increasingly smaller than they were in previous generations.  However, the Creator of the family encourages us to bring children into this world. Procreation is not only a biblical command, but a solid public policy position.