Chinese men like non-Chinese girls

China needs women, Germany needs immigrants

China is getting old. That is why the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party ended the one-child policy in October this year. After 35 years of being limited to only one child, Chinese couples are now allowed to have a second.

The Communist Party did not make the decision to end the one-child policy for ethical reasons, but for economic reasons. Because now it is foreseeable what effects the years of birth control will have on China's population growth.

However, the end of family restrictions does not trigger any particular rethinking among the Chinese. According to a survey, only about a third of the Chinese want to have a second child. This was the result of a survey of 60,000 readers on the Ifeng website, the Internet presence of a Chinese television broadcaster. 23,000 of the respondents therefore spoke out in favor of a second child.

The protection of the Chinese women

The one-child policy was introduced in 1979/80 to limit population growth. In the early years, the policy was particularly strict: forced abortions were carried out and mothers were forcibly sterilized. From a purely functional point of view, this approach was successful. Otherwise there would be around 300 million more people living in China today. But the one-child policy has created more problems than it has solved.

In 1982 there were 108.5 boy births for every 100 girl births in China, and in 2009 there were even 120 boys for every 100 girls. The number of girl births is therefore below the average worldwide ratio: there are 102 to 106 boys for every 100 girls.

In China there is now a serious »surplus of men«. Many female fetuses were aborted and newborn girls were killed or abandoned as a result of the one-child regulation. Because sons are traditionally considered more valuable.

To prevent such acts, farming families have been allowed to have a second child since the mid-1980s if their firstborn was a girl. It was also prohibited by law to determine the sex of the unborn child using ultrasound. That should stop female fetal abortions. In the event of a violation, the family, but also the doctor, could face a heavy fine.

Later the one-child policy was gradually relaxed. From 2004 married couples were allowed to have a child together, even if one of the spouses from their first marriage already had a child. For two years now, couples with a partner who grew up as an only child have been allowed to have a second child. The government hoped that these easing would lead to an increase in the number of births and a slowdown in the aging process of society.

However, no significant effect can be observed. There are currently over 185 million Chinese people over 60 years old, and that number will rise to 500 million by 2050. This means that one in four Chinese will be of retirement age in 35 years' time. The rest of the population is unlikely to be able to pay enough pensions and social benefits to make up for the deficit.

Men who don't get women

However, the repeal of the one-child policy comes too late to stop the considerable aging of the Chinese population. Furthermore, state birth control was not the only reason why young married couples in the cities chose only one child. A second child was - and is still for many couples today - simply too expensive.

Another explanation for the low number of young people is the rise in the general level of education. Women would rather have a career than be a housewife and mother. However, they are often dependent on going to work as life in the big cities is expensive. Just one salary is often not enough. In addition, private care places for children are very cost-intensive, state care places are very rare.

The lack of marriageable and childbearing women also contributes to the fact that not enough children are born. It is believed that in ten years' time up to 40 million Chinese men will no longer have a wife.

The consequences of this are both pragmatic and dramatic: women are "imported" to China from other countries. In practical terms, this means that they are kidnapped by human traffickers from “poor areas in Vietnam, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar as forced brides or prostitutes to China”.

In China, it should have been recognized much earlier that the country was heading for an imbalance between men and women. With the one-child policy, China has, in perspective, harmed itself. However, their abolition is only one step on the way to stabilizing the population.

When China is old, Germany is already dead

While an average of 1.6 children are born per woman in China, there are only about 1.4 children in Germany - mind you, without the one-child policy. In order to achieve stable population growth, however, a quota of at least 2.1 children per woman is required.

63 percent of Germans consider two children to be ideal. China is a country in which having a large number of children is seen as a blessing, after all, before the introduction of the one-child policy, children were seen as a guarantee for old-age provision. However, these attitudes are not reflected in real birth rates.

In addition to the generally high cost of living, the low birth rate in Germany is probably mainly due to the increase in the level of education. People who have a college degree and thus a greater chance of a better paying job often choose to have just one child (or even none at all) so that both partners can go to work. It is easier and cheaper to have only one child cared for than two or more children.

It is only in the last ten years that demographic change, the problem of which has been known since the 1970s, has increasingly come into the focus of public discussion and has become a »fashion topic«. "There is now even a risk that the necessary political reforms will be pushed into the background by the inflation-like increasing discussions and conferences."

The concrete measures that can dampen the negative consequences of demographic change are well known: to secure pensions, for example, these would be a longer working life, a higher employment rate for women and the integration of immigrants into the labor market. In addition, if the birth rate increases, Germany needs a family policy that guarantees the "compatibility of family and work for both partners". Germany could act as a role model in dealing with demographic change - not just for China.