In Beijing’s Chaoyang District, 32-year-old “Peter” Liu has created a vision of what the ideal millennial life in modern China should look like. He shares his 680-square-foot apartment with a girlfriend who goes by the name of Cecilia and an energetic, bread-colored Frenchie named Sweet His Potato, his bulldog. Liu said he makes a “significant” income selling insurance. Working together, they earn enough to cover their daily needs, monthly allowances for their parents in northern China, vacations and trips to their favorite luxury store, Louis Vuitton.
“We feel like we don’t need to have children, so I think we’re not traditional in that sense. Every time our parents call, we argue. But Cecilia and I are now living a good life without children,” Liu said. luck.
However, Liu’s lifestyle is becoming more commonplace in a country that has traditionally emphasized filial piety, which respects elders such as parents and grandparents, making having children an important aspect. , Liu and his partner are just one of at least 500,000 “DINK” (double-income childless) couples in China. The country’s official census from 1980 to 2010 shows that “DINK” households are increasing with each passing decade.
As China has become richer and more urbanized over the past 40 years, young Chinese have started following in the footsteps of their developed country peers. result? Beijing is concerned that China’s population, one of the most critical periods of President Xi Jinping’s nine-year rule, could be shrinking and aging, rapidly declining. population of China.
Liu’s parents’ generation mostly had opposite lifestyles to their children. Liu’s parents had many siblings and often ran out of food. This generation was defined by their ability to “eat bitter”. It is a commonly used Chinese term that refers to enduring hardships.
China’s 400 million millennials (a group larger than the total population of the United States) are defined as “super-consumers” who wield significant purchasing power. Like many of his classmates, Liu is an only child. “We use what we like, eat what we like, and live how we like,” he says.
In 1979, Chinese authorities implemented a one-child policy to combat population growth. China developed at a breakneck pace over the next four decades, resulting in a boom in the middle class. From her 3.1% of the population in 2000, he increased to 50.8% in 2018.
But government policy was probably too effective. “The one-child policy has irreversibly changed the concept of fertility in China,” said an obstetrician and gynecologist. big country with an empty nest what he wrote project syndicate in July.
Since 1980, China’s birth rate has been steadily declining. The country’s total fertility rate (the number of children a woman gives birth to at childbearing age) plummeted from 5.81 in 1970 to 1.18 in 2010 and hit a record low of 1.16 last year, the highest in the world. At its lowest level, Beijing fears a looming crisis. Population crisis.
Chinese millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, often grew up as lone children accustomed to the norms of individualism and consumerism.in Singapore (NUS) luck. She says this generation is more likely to seek personal satisfaction than pursue happiness by having children.
Beijing is encouraging its citizens to have more children. It called on the 96 million Communist Party members to “take responsibility” for helping China’s population grow,[no] The excuse is … never getting married or having children,” a state-run publication wrote last year.
However, Ryu disagrees. “But is it really a national duty for young people? I am proud of how far China has come, but I am not willing to sacrifice my comfort and happiness to have children. Many of my peers think similarly.”
At the same time, China’s economic rise means that home, education and childcare costs are skyrocketing, making social mobility and the ability to provide a good education for children more difficult. In 2020, the cost of raising a child in China reached $309,000, compared to $233,000 in the United States. China’s highly competitive schools and workplaces have triggered movements such as ‘lying down’ and ‘regression’. It symbolizes an increasing rejection of the brutal system by young people, with some young Chinese refusing marriage altogether and vowing to remain single, with the number of new marriages in China last year dropping to It hits a record low of her 7.6 million, contributing to the low birth rate.
“Over the years … some of the financial and social competitive pressures to get ahead have [in] Enough for this generation.” Young China: How a restless generation will change the country and the world, Said luck. A decade ago, he says, the decision to not have children in exchange for a better lifestyle was prejudiced. But now, says Dychtwald, this “all-consuming centrality of having children to complete the family.” [is] “Loosening their grip” on Chinese youth.
population time bomb
Beijing now hopes to avert an ever-changing demographic time bomb that could threaten economic growth and political stability at a crucial time for China’s future. In 2016, the one-child policy was withdrawn. In 2018, a professor at a top Chinese university sparked a wave of criticism online when he proposed taxing “DINK” households. Last year, Beijing introduced her three-child policy and began discouraging abortions. Local governments, meanwhile, offer cash subsidies for couples with multiple children, in addition to perks such as discounts on in vitro fertilization and preferential housing policies.
On Xiaohongshu, a Chinese internet platform that combines Pinterest and Instagram, users discussed recent government policies, with one individual calling the measures “useless. The reality is so cruel. [with children] You can’t compete for jobs with people who don’t have children. Employers prefer people without children. You lose money, time, and competitiveness when you’re with kids. ”
Remedy did not help. China’s birth count is set to drop to her record low of less than 10 million this year.
According to the United Nations’ 2022 World Population Prospects, China’s population will start declining a decade ahead of schedule this year. By 2050, China’s working-age population will fall from about 987 million today to 767 million, he wrote in the United Nations World Economic Forum in July. Despite predictions that this will be the “Chinese century,” China’s population projections suggest that influence could shift elsewhere. “
Yeung argues that Beijing’s policies “had little effect” in encouraging young people to have children, in part because social norms took hold after 40 years of the one-child policy. Recent challenges, such as China’s draconian “no-coronavirus” policy that has resulted in severe lockdowns, coupled with China’s economic slowdown and looming property crisis, have further increased people’s uncertainty about the future. says Yeung.
And current government measures won’t be enough to reverse China’s demographic tide. Singapore Institutional Renewal: Realigning Socioeconomic Policies for the 21st Century said an associate professor of public policy at NUS. luck. Such financial incentives are insufficient, he said. This is because Beijing must first correct the deeper social problems that plague China, such as the lack of work-life balance and the high cost of living, especially for childcare and education.
For Liu and many young Chinese like him, having children is “more of a luxury than a necessity,” says Dichtwald. Liu agrees and admits that his dog, Sweet His Potato, is close enough that he wants to have children.