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China’s lifting of childbirth restrictions is a ‘short-term band-aid,’ expert says

EVANSTON, Ill. — Reports of China’s intention to loosen restrictions on childbirth are prompting experts to warn that previous efforts to control fertility backfired.

Nancy Qian is a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She is the founding director of China Lab, a part of Northwestern's Global Poverty Research Lab. She can be reached via Molly Lynch at or 773-505-9719.

Quote from Professor Qian
“The shrinking population is not a problem. Current fertility rates predict a population of 1.17 billion by 2065. The problem is that China needs to figure out a way to increase the economic productivity of the young so that they can sustain the older population without increasing the total population. Increasing fertility is a short-sighted band-aid that will just get the Chinese economy into more trouble. That said, trying to manipulate fertility against natural economic forces has always been a mistake – first China restricted access to contraception before 1971, then the population exploded and it had to enforce fertility restrictions, now there are too few young and it wants to push fertility again. These policies are misguided and can put China into trouble again and again – China should let natural market forces decide fertility.”