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Cindy Fan interviewed by BBC News

Cindy Fan interviewed by BBC News

BBC News interviewed Cindy Fan, UCLA interim vice provost for international studies, about the policy change on November 15, 2013.

The People’s Republic of China recently announced a new change to its one-child policy instituted in 1979: if only one spouse in a married couple is an only child, the couple will be permitted to have a second child. Previously, both spouses were required to be only children for this legal dispensation.

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Asked by BBC News if the policy change was simply self-preservation, Cindy Fan responded, “Very much so, given the fact that the Chinese are rapidly aging. If the government doesn’t do anything about the one-child policy very soon, the burden of the elderly population on the working-age population is going to have an adverse effect on the economy.”

Fan pointed out that the policy has never been culturally popular because Chinese people have traditionally sought to have large families. Given that the policy has continually met with resistance, and has been in place for over thirty years, she deemed it a good time for a change of course.

She discounted, however, that the policy change would result in a population explosion, maintaining that China’s population, currently less than 1.4 billion, was unlikely to grow significantly in the next two decades. What concerns Chinese policymakers, she explained, is the present demographic structure of the population.

Each year for the next 20 years or so, stressed Fan, the working-age population is going to decline by more than 3 million. “So at the end of the next 20 years, you’re looking at a loss of about 67 million among the working-age population, whereas the population over 65 is going to increase by about 110 million. . . . [T]hose two numbers would get policymakers very worried,” she concluded.


UCLA International Institute