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This China Center chart of the week examines China’s dependency ratios and fertility rate over the past two decades.
In November 2013, China’s birth-control policy was amended to stipulate that couples in which either the husband or wife is from a single-child family will now be allowed to have two children. The policy adjustment is intended to gradually shift declining fertility-rate dynamics to promote more balanced population development in the longer term.
There is uncertainty around the potential impacts of these changes, however, due to the reality that any relaxation of such rules is unlikely to alter people’s willingness (or not) to have a second child. However, the changes may have impact at the micro-level in the near to medium term. Against the backdrop of a rapidly aging population, the anticipated increase in fertility rates, even if moderate, will necessarily create an even larger dependency burden for Chinese workers in the future than they bear today.