A declining birth rate can cause issues within a country that might not be immediately obvious, including an ever increasingly ageing population and the potential health problems associated with that, and a lack of young minds leaving education to help become the thinkers and the changemakers of the future.
One country that’s experiencing a worrying decline in the number of babies born each year, is China
In 2021, the number of babies born fell by more than a million on the year before.
China is home to 1.4 billion people and this drop has become a downward trend over recent years – in 2021, 10.62 million babies were born, compared to 12 million in 2020 and 15 million in 2019.
Researchers put the decline down to the one child policy that had been law in China for many years. It’s thought that this law has led to a decline in the number of women in China of childbearing age.
The decline is despite a recent policy change scrapping the one baby per family rule, and allowing couples to have up to three children.
Last year, the population of China only grew by 480,000, the lowest figure since the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61
This has prompted Beijing to become the first city in China to offer to fund IVF and other assisted fertility medical procedures in order to try to boost the birth rate. Amongst other things, policy makers and governments are concerned that eventually the country will no longer have enough young people to care for the older generations.
From next month, couples can receive £3,000 towards IVF procedures with no limit on how many cycles they have. Couples can also benefit from new polices that have increased the time a woman can take for maternity leave, cash subsidies and scrapping any after school tuition that earns tutors a profit.
The decision to partially fund IVF has been welcomed, but some say that it’s not enough and that that scrapping the one child policy has come too late. With one cycle of IVF typically costing between £3,400 and £11,500, is £3,000 enough for the average couple?
Around 40 million people in China have infertility problems and as women decide to delay marriage and motherhood in favour of waiting for the right person and for career advantages, the number is set to rise.
Currently being challenged is another law that forbids unmarried woman in China the chance to freeze their eggs
Potentially this means that they won’t become mothers if they choose to remain unmarried.
With the assisted fertility market expected to be worth £10 billion by 2030, it remains to be seen whether the birth rate in China will begin to increase again.
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