China’s infamous one-child policy is officially over but why do so many Chinese parents willingly stop at one?
When asked why she and her husband do not want a second child, Ms Shi Xiaomei smiles at her pudgy nine-year-old son and does a quick tally of the family budget. Her salary as a cleaning lady and the income from a mahjong parlour in their spare room barely cover their son’s school fees and other expenses. ‘With just one, we can give him nicer things,’ says the 34-year-old at her home in Dafeng, a prosperous but still-rural county north of Shanghai.
For years, China curbed its once-explosive population growth with a widely hated one-child limit. Now, the policy may be on its way out, as some demographers warn that China is facing the opposite problem: not enough babies.