December 6, 2004


China Fears a Baby Bust
: After 25 years of the one-child policy, the nation risks producing too few children. But many parents have decided one is enough. (Don Lee, December 6, 2004, LA Times)

Zhang Xiaofeng, a 28-year-old who runs a steel business here, doesn't need anyone to tell him about the joys of fatherhood. He eagerly pulls out his wallet and displays pictures of his 2-year-old son, Chengqi, with his mother's big, round eyes.

Zhang often passes up nights out with his buddies so he can race home to play with Chengqi.

"I bathed him, fed him and changed his diapers. I did all those things," he says proudly.

But ask Zhang whether he and his wife want another child, and his jaw tightens. Raising another child would be tiring, time-consuming and expensive, Zhang protests.

He sums it up: "One is enough."

For the last quarter-century, China's one-child decree has been criticized by citizens and outsiders alike as draconian. But as the nation takes steps to ease its policy, with some cities encouraging certain families to have a second child, people like Zhang illustrate how difficult it will be for the government to root out ingrained attitudes.

Having only one child is now widely accepted, especially among urban residents. In Shanghai, China's largest city, a recent government survey of about 20,000 young people found that more than 80% preferred to have just one child. Another 5% said they wanted no children at all.

The findings worried officials all the more because this metropolis of 17 million was already grappling with plummeting births. Last year, about 57,000 babies were born in Shanghai, but there were nearly twice as many deaths. Such a large gap has profound implications for the future workforce and for an aging society. At the current rate, the city would face labor shortages, even with its sizable inflow of migrants.

No one's ever had much trouble de-moralizing a society, but re-moralization is almost unheard of.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2004 12:45 PM

That's cuz re-moralization ain't a word! yuk yuk... but seriously, a revival is something that can be hoped for here. There's always hope, eh?

Posted by: Scof at December 6, 2004 2:00 PM

Has to have been heard of, otherwise how did the moral ones get that way in the first place?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 6, 2004 3:07 PM

No moral society without private property; not sure where our Red Chinese friends are with this. Aren't there now Chinese millionaires who are not party apparatchiks?

Posted by: JimGooding at December 6, 2004 3:13 PM

They were moralized. No one's ever been remoralized.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2004 3:13 PM

OJ makes up his own words, so he gets to define what they mean.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2004 3:38 PM


Illiteracy is not an excuse for sniping:

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2004 3:41 PM


Orrin may be firm that no society has ever re-moralized, but I'm sure he would agree that they can be conservatized.

Posted by: Peter B at December 6, 2004 4:20 PM

That's just pausing the rot.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2004 4:23 PM