In China, women don’t have children. We asked 3 of them to tell us why.

by MMC
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“Let’s face it, having a child is like owning an investment with no guaranteed return for at least 18 years,” Chen, a Chinese venture capital analyst, told Business Insider.

For starters, it seems that marriage simply isn’t on the agenda for many Chinese women of childbearing age. The number of marriages registered in China fell to a new low of 6.83 million in 2022.

And for many who get married, children simply aren’t part of the vision.

“I wouldn’t choose to spend part of my income on children because it’s expensive. The most important thing on my mind right now is how I’m going to fund my retirement. I feel like with my current income level, I can’t retire comfortably anytime soon,” Emily Huang, 29, told BI.

Huang, who worked in the tech industry before becoming a content creator, says she didn’t want to get bogged down by starting a family.

“There are so many things to explore in this world, so many things to do in this very short life that I don’t see myself taking on the responsibility of having children,” Huang said.

Such views are widespread on Chinese social media, with many lamenting the costs of raising a child.

“When it comes to having children, I don’t have the slightest desire, only fear. The disadvantages of having children far outweigh the advantages. By not having children, I don’t I just have to worry about my retirement,” one person wrote on the microblogging platform Weibo.

Others cited loss of personal freedom as a major barrier to having children.

“Not having children means I can spend all my money on myself. I can take holidays abroad whenever I want, sleep in on the weekends and go out drinking late at night. That beats to worry about my children day after day,” another person wrote.

The looming demographic crisis is a source of concern for Chinese leaders. At last year’s National Women’s Congress, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said China should “actively cultivate a new culture of marriage and childbearing.”

“We must strengthen our marriage, childbirth and family planning counseling for our young people. We must promote and implement fertility-friendly policies and improve the quality of our human capital while caring for our population aging,” Xi said in his speech. speech in October.

However, these measures did not produce the expected effect.

“This is because most of China’s fertility reduction, particularly since the 1990s, has been voluntary and results more from modernization than from fertility control policies.” Dudley L. Poston Jr.professor of sociology at Texas A&M University, said in a commentary for The conversation in July.

“Chinese couples are having fewer children due to the higher cost of living and education expenses of having more than one child,” he continued.

It’s not just a question of money. Having children remains a deeply personal decision that cannot be evaluated by finances alone.

Chen, the venture capitalist, told BI she didn’t want to experience the pain of childbirth.

“We now know, through social media and online forums, how painful it is to give birth to a child. This is the kind of information that is missing when a girl is growing up because mothers probably don’t talk not from the pain of giving birth to them,” Chen said.

“My mother didn’t tell me, and I’m pretty sure my grandmother didn’t tell her either,” she continued.

That said, not everyone is opposed to the idea of ​​having children. Some spoke of the joy of watching their child grow.

“Having a child is a blessing that brings joy, although it can sometimes be a problem,” said one person on Weibo. “Rich or poor, we must take it step by step.”

Lanjie Wang, 25, a graduate student in economics, told BI she would like to have children one day.

“I want to have children because I believe I have brought happiness to my parents. I believe my children will also bring happiness to my family,” Wang said.

Of course, China is not alone in facing a demographic time bomb. Japan And Korea have been facing low birth rates for years; AmericaThe birth rate is also falling. The problem is also often examined along generational rather than geographic lines, with many questions centering on why Millennials around the world are delaying childbirth.

However, even a massive change in societal attitudes may not be enough to solve China’s demographic crisis.

“Even if China somehow defies past trends and manages to significantly increase its national fertility rate, it will take nearly two decades to bear fruit, while babies born today finally enter the job market”, Collin Meiselassociate director of geopolitical analysis at the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver, wrote in a commentary for Time in December.

If anything, China’s one-child policy may have been too effective in curbing its population growth.

“The one-child policy, in force for 36 years, has irreversibly changed China’s view of procreation: having one child – or none – has become the social norm. » Fuxian Yisenior investigator in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote in a commentary for Project union in February 2023.

Nonetheless, China appears determined to reverse the demographic effects of its past policies. Xi’s recent calls for more babies have begun to alarm those who remember the Chinese government’s efforts to enforce the one-child policy.

“We saw what happened 30 years ago with the one-child policy, when it was the other way around,” Huang, the content creator, told BI.

“I was scared when I first heard the news because I want my body to be under my control, especially when I don’t want children,” Huang continued. “I want this choice to be mine.”

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