Recent reports of women being coerced into late-term abortions by local officials have thrust China’s population control policy into the spotlight and ignited an outcry among policy advisers and scholars who are seeking to push central officials to fundamentally change or repeal a law that penalizes families for having more than one child. Pressure to alter the policy is building on other fronts as well, as economists say that China’s aging population and dwindling pool of young, cheap labor will be a significant factor in slowing the nation’s economic growth rate.
“An aging working population is resulting in a labor shortage, a less innovative and less energetic economy, and a more difficult path to industrial upgrading,” said He Yafu, a demographics analyst. China’s population of 1.3 billion is the world’s largest, and the central government still seems focused on limiting that number through the one-child policy, Mr. He said. Abolishing the one-child policy, though, might not be enough to bring the birthrate up to a “healthy” level because of other factors, he said.