The impacts of lower population growth on the quality of life and economic development: China's experience

China Popul Today. 1994 Feb;11(1):4-7.


PIP: China's population in 1993 was 1.18 billion, which makes it the most populous nation in the world. The Chinese population policy aims to control growth and improve the quality of human resources. Most Chinese recognize the need for family planning. Replacement level fertility has been achieved, because there are limited resources to support a large population. Scarce resources are limiting economic development. There has been a loss of arable land, and the dream of 2 hectares of land, a cow, a wife and children, and a comfortable bed are not attainable. Water resources are also limited, the ratio of water to arable land is unevenly balanced, and there is overdrawing of groundwater. Energy shortages, environmental pollution, and pressure on employment are other effects of population pressure. The surplus labor force is about 150-190 million farmering laborers. Labor productivity has declined due to excess labor. Projections are that 20-25% of employees are surplus, and unemployed in urban areas will total 10 million. Without a strong family planning program, there will be a rural labor surplus of 200-360 million people by the year 2000. One benefit of lower population growth is the savings in child-rearing expenses. Estimated births averted between 1971 and 1992 was about 250 million, which translates to a savings of $500 billion. About 66% of this sum would be recovered in the same period and 33% would be recovered between 1993-2007. Government and nongovernmental spending on family planning totaled an estimated $10 billion between 1971-92. The ratio of input to output for averted births is 1 to 17. Total spending would have been RMB 2500 billion yuan for child rearing of averted births between 1971-92 and RMB 1828 billion yuan between 1991-2005. The saved money could be invested in economic development. An estimated 10% of national income could be saved. Another benefit from low population growth is the increased consumption evident between 1971-90. There has not been any significant change in the employment pattern in China. Women have benefitted from smaller families and greater involvement in the work force. 689 poor counties were identified as needing assistance, which resulted in increased incomes.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Birth Rate*
  • China
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries
  • Economics*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Far East
  • Fertility
  • Financial Management
  • Investments*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Public Policy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Welfare