China’s announcement that is will end its decades long one child policy is exciting news for married couples who want to have two children. However, what about unmarried women? China still makes it almost impossible for most single women to have a child.
Single women that do not have a “reproduction permit” form the government are denied birth certificates for their children. If they do have a child anyway, the child will not receive a hukou, the official household registration. This means that their child will have trouble gaining admission to school and accessing affordable healthcare. The single mother will also get a “social maintenance fee” for violating family planning policies, which is quite expensive – $13,000.
Many women have taken to social media to voice their opinions proclaiming, “Single women with an education and a high income should immigrate to another country.” In face, some single women have already begun travelling abroad to freeze their eggs because China bans single women from using assisted reproductive technology. In July, a famous movie star of China, Xu Jinglei at 41, told a Chinese magazine that she flew to the United States to freeze her eggs. Amazingly, many came out to support Xu’s choice on Weibo.
It is not surprising that China chose to end its one-child policy in hopes to alleviate some of its demographic challenges, which I wrote about in a previous post. Their population pressures come from the institution of the policy in 1980, which has caused a rapidly aging population, shrinking work force, falling birth rates and an extreme sex ratio imbalance – there are roughly 116 boys born for every 100 girls.
Many Chinese feminists have said that they don’t want to marry at all, but are still doing it because they want to have a child and the obstacles for single mothers are so insurmountable. Rather than giving women increased reproductive freedom, many feminists believe that the new “two-child policy” will actually put even more pressure on women through unforeseen ways. For example, there will be increased gender discrimination in hiring as employers factor in the time female job applicants take off from work to have two babies instead of one now.
It is very interesting that China is both forcing women not to have children, but also to have children at the same time – what is the right thing to do? How do you think that China can solve their demographic problem?