On October 29 the Chinese government announced a change to the country's One-Child policy as part of its 13th Five-Year Plan. The plan lays out future economic and social policy and is sometimes used to introduce groundbreaking political changes. According to Isentia China’s media monitoring research, from October 26 to 30, based on headline mention searches, there were more than 17,900 articles on Chinese media focusing on the end of the One-Child policy. The announcement to abolish the controversial policy is seen by some as a bid to address declining birth rates and an ageing population. While many foreign media remain pessimistic about the effectiveness of the policy on solving China's demographic challenges, we asked how Chinese citizens are viewing on this dramatic change?
Caijing.com conducted an online survey on Weibo and asked people whether they planned to have a second child. More than 200,000 people participated and the results show that 33.5% of respondents are willing to have a second child, while 20.4% only want one child. While 41,140 participants expressed their wish to have more children, many said they can only afford one due to financial pressure. More than 11,192 people, around 5.5%, would like to have more than two children.
According to Isentia’s monitoring results, the automatic semantic analysis (below bubble stream chart) shows that apart from mentioning the 13th Five-Year plan and the release of Second-Child policy, mainstream media are more focused on whether the policy will help resolve China’s ageing population. The discussions on social media are majorly focused on the following topics:
1. The cost of raising one more child is so prohibitive in China. According to 21stCentury’s Economic, the estimated cost is around RMB 680,000 to 2 million, without factoring in inflation, which almost equal to the cost of purchasing a new apartment.
2. Family, especially female related issues and concerns. Including age, maternity leave, child care, and first child jealousy and career related concerns. Interestingly, the relationship between wife and mother in-law has become one of the hottest discussions on whether to have second child or not, since in China children are usually looked after by the grandparents.
3. The raising stock prices and new market opportunities. The effects of the crash of China stock market seem to have been forgotten by a few, with some people gushing about the possibility of the rising share prices of companies selling childcare products. Meanwhile, auto manufacturers and property agents are promoting the potential investment opportunities brought by the new policy.
4. Celebrities and TV programs. Many celebrities in China hold foreign passports and often have more than one child. With the announcement of the end of One-Child policy, celebrities and family reality programmes such as “Where has dad gone?” are being mentioned a lot during the online discussions.
Analysts at investment bank Credit Suisse estimated that the relaxed controls would result in an extra 3 million to 6 million babies born annually in the five-year period starting in 2017, according to the Guardian. Despite some seeing Beijing’s new policy as “too little too late”, the new announcement has made economic waves that have travelled as far as New Zealand, where the currency of the dairy exporting country surged on the back of the possible baby-boom.