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BEIJING (LifeSiteNews) – If you look at population stats for China, one startling thing jumps out: It is not the one-child policy, with all its forced abortions and sterilizations, that led to the decline of China’s growth rate.  

It is voluntary contraception.  

Despite decades of brutally forced abortions and sterilizations, the demise of the Chinese people will be by choice. 

It was not in 1980, when the enforcement of China’s one-child policy went into effect, that the growth rate dropped. It was a decade before, in 1970 — right after oral contraceptives became available — that the country’s growth rate underwent a fairly sharp, steady decline until about 1981. The growth rate then saw an overall increase until 1988, after which the growth rate steadily declined, but not as sharply as during the 1970’s. 

Now, despite a population size that is more than four times that of the United States, China has a growth rate slightly less than that of the US. As of 2020, China’s growth rate was at 0.226 percent, versus the United States’ 0.351.  

In fact, according to data released this January, China could now sink below the threshold of growth this year, and its population could begin to shrink. Yong Cai, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, predicts that “China’s population decline will be rapid.” 

Some are cautioning that the trend could become irreversible. 

Experts are warning that the blow to population growth could hurt China’s economy over the long term. Japan Times reported that China’s aim to become the world’s most “rich and powerful country” by 2049, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, is threatened. 


In fear of the damage such a decline would pose to China’s strength as an economic power, the government just last year upped its child limit to three per family. But, just as when it increased the child limit to two per family in 2016, it appears the measure will be of no avail.  

To begin with, decades of selectively aborting baby girls have left a disproportionate number of wifeless Chinese men, and the childbearing pool has shrunk accordingly. In 2020, there were about 35 million more men than women. 

But at least just as much of a problem is that even the married do not want children, or are reluctant to have more than one. Last year, a married 31-year-old called Lili (not her real name) by the BBC attested that she had “very few peers” with children, and she herself wanted to “live” her life without the “constant worries” of motherhood. 

Ye Liu reported in 2018, after interviewing 82 Chinese women, that “fear” sums up the reason women are not having children. Her focus was on the fear of not being able to adequately provide for one’s children. But it is widely reported that couples commonly balk at the costs involved in child raising, especially because of women’s prospects of being fired once pregnant. Young couples uphold an expectation of a two-income household. 

“Lili”, the 31-year old woman interviewed by the BBC said, “If it becomes less competitive for kids to get the resources they need, I might feel more mentally ready and less stressed about having a child.” 

 Are today’s Chinese of childbearing age better off economically than their grandparents? Undoubtedly so. A new reluctance to have children can be overall summed up in a shift in expectations of material affluence, and a shift in mindset as to what constitutes good “quality of life.” This is certainly mediated in part by a shift in the basis of China’s economy, and available jobs.  

But the situation is also — as is the case in all other countries where people are reluctant to have kids, or more than one or two of them — a values problem. And it is not just an overvaluing of material affluence for the well-being of children. It is an undervaluing of children themselves, and what sacrifices are worth making to have them. 

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Emily Mangiaracina is a Miami-based journalist for LifeSiteNews. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of Florida. Emily is most passionate about the Traditional Latin Mass and promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church.