More than half of Chinese parents do not want a second child, and 25 percent remain hesitant, according to a new study that highlights the challenges facing efforts to inject new blood into an aging population.
The report, released on Thursday by the All China Women's Federation and Beijing Normal University, found that 62 percent of parents in developed regions alone are unwilling to have a second child despite their relative financial security in China.
Researchers interviewed 10,155 parents whose children are under age 15.
The parents, from 21 cities across 10 provinces, came from various economic and regional backgrounds, such as the well-off eastern and southern coastal areas, central populous regions and mountainous western areas. They included urban residents, migrant workers and rural villagers.
Yet wherever they lived, they shared four major concerns. Eighty-three percent said they did not want a second child because they feared they would be unable to get them into a kindergarten or a decent school. The other main concerns were about the quality of baby products, the environment and access to healthcare.
Wang Yun, a professor of child psychology at Beijing Normal University who led the research, said she was surprised to find how many people were put off by a limited access to education.
"When we began the study in April, I talked with friends and colleagues on my campus. Most seemed happy to have a second child," she said. "But maybe that's because we're a lucky group. We don't need to worry about our kids going to kindergarten or school, because the university provides that for us. Plus, as professors, we don't need to be in the office every day. That makes life easier for us, compared with many others."
Wang said the government should invest more in education and healthcare to make it more accessible for all parents who want a second child.
The China National Committee on Aging forecasts that the country will have 400 million people age 60 or older by 2033, representing a growth rate of 10 million a year. At that rate, more than one-third of the population in 2050 will be senior citizens.
To reverse the aging trend, the central government relaxed the family planning policy starting this year, allowing every family to have two children.