Population policies

China is suffering from a rapidly increasing population and on the other side of the spectrum; Russia is suffering from a decreasing population. Both countries have implemented population policies to try and tackle there problems. But do these policies really help? Or do they create more problems than they solve? In this essay, I shall look at both Russia’s pro-natalist policies and then china’s anti-natalist policies and I will be assessing their effects.

Firstly, I am going to define what pro and anti-natalist means;

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Pro-natalist – Encourage couples to have more children and thus increase the population. E.g. Russia

Anti-natalist – Dissuade couples from having more children and thus reduce fertility. Emphasis on family planning. E.g. China

Russia has pro-natalist policies, it is the largest country in the world, is facing a demographic crisis; poverty and infertility has lowered birth rates to about 9.95 per 1,000 people and poor health care and alcoholic problems have increased death rates to 14.65 deaths per 1,000. Poverty and lack of opportunities are encouraging people to leave the country in search of a better life; 100,000 people are leaving Russia every year while only about 70,000 immigrants enter. Lower birth rates, higher death rates and out migration, reduced Russia’s population at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 to 800,000 people per year during the late 1990s and most of this decade. The UN warned in 2005 that Russia’s then population of about 143 million could fall by a third by 2050 if trends did not improve.

A declining population is a major problem for Russia; it is the world’s largest country and is one of the world’s sparsely populated countries. Russia has rigorously tried to tackle this problem because it fears that the country won’t be able to generate enough young men to fill the ranks of its military and that the already under performing economy will not be able to sustain itself, they also fear that immigration could drastically alter the country’s ethnic and religious makeup.

Putin was one of the first politicians to notice this problem, when he was elected he started to identify the problems and he prioritised the steps he needed to take to tackle this problem; “First a lower death rate; second, and efficient migration policy; and third, a higher birth rate”.

It is very hard to increase migration into Russia; the Russians themselves are against this idea, they have rallied chanting “Russia for Russians”, apart from easing immigration laws, they haven’t done anything to stop the racism that prevents people from going into Russia.

Russia has taken some measure to increase birth rates:

1) They acknowledged the economic problems that cause discourage couples from having children, as an incentive Russia doubled child support payments to $55 a month and offered a one time payment of $9, 2000 to women that gave birth for a second time.

2) They have made September 12 a Conception Day in Russia, it is a paid day off of work, to try and encourage couples to conceive

3) Offered lot of prizes to women who give birth on the Russian national unity day.

These policies don’t actually tackle the real problems, people aren’t going to have children for a few gifts and they’re not going to half children because they have a day off of work either. The real problem lies with poverty, giving $9,200 is only going to help in the short term, but the kids need to be clothed and fed for 18 years. This money would be better spent creating jobs that will increase wealth and make people want to have children as opposed to encouraging them to have children when they don’t want to.

The money spent trying to encourage people to have children could be spent reducing the death rates, this is something Russia isn’t doing very well; 35,000 people die every year from alcohol, Russia needs to reduce this problem and also improve the health care system, this will increase life expectancy and improve the economy, which would have a multiplier effect as it would improve the economy and allow more people to have children.

China has anti-natalist policies; with just over 1.3 billion people it is the world’s most populous country. China was experiencing social, economic and environmental problems in the 70s when it was experiencing rapid growth, to try and control this, the the Chinese government introduced the one child policy in 1979, China says that the policy has helped to prevent an extra 400 million births which would have placed the current population near 1.7 billion. Others believe this figure is greatly exaggerated and that the true impact is closer to 50-60 million.

The one-child policy promotes couples having only one child in rural and urban areas. This limit is strongly enforced; couples who violate this policy are required to pay large fines and are denied bonuses at their workplace. There have been cases of forced abortions too. This one child policy is as strict as it was 30 years ago when it was introduced, however the authorities have realised that people living in different parts of china need different policies therefore in some rural areas, where they need a boy to work in the farms, you are allowed two children if the first is a girl.

This one child policy has a lot of negative externalities and it hasn’t even been proven to work; some people say that the increased living standards has reduced the need for children anyway just as it has done In countries such as thailand and malaysia. The one child policy has increased female infanticide as couples want boys to look after them in their old age and to continue the family name. For a period of time, a lot of people were aborting their babies when they found out that it was a girl. To stop this, china made it illegal to tell the sex of the baby, however many people have gotten past this by giving red envelopes containing money to the doctors. The combination of female infanticide and abortion has caused a significant gender imbalance in china.

The sex ratio at birth between male and female births in China reached 117:100 in the year 2000, According to a report by the State Population and Family Planning Commission; there will be 30 million more men than women in 2020, which would lead to social instability. China has now stopped forcing abortions and instead has tried to educate them through family planning schemes, these organisations were once feared however they’re now offering advice and are decreasing birth rates without force.

Even with it’s problems, 75% Chinese people agree with this one child policy and there is no doubt that it has decreased Chinas population growth, however, I think that because the child policy was implemented to remove negative externalities, it shouldn’t create more of them. Instead of forcing people to have one child, they should have identified the reasons why people had a lot of children and made it easier for them to have one children by tackling those reasons. They should have created more jobs and increased pensions so that the people wouldn’t need to rely on their children to look after them in the world age.

Out of the two countries, I think the anti-natalist policies that china has implemented have been more successful; they have decreased population growth which was a huge problem for china. Russia on the other hand, hasn’t really increased its population and is wasting a lot of money providing short solution to the problem; they need use this money to create more jobs and to improve the healthcare system.

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