Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Changing to a three-child policy will not automatically increase the fertility rate, argues Nancy Qian.Credit: Peter Morgan, Creative Commons IRVINE – In an effort to address rapid population aging, China has just announced that it will allow all families to have up to three children. The decision comes on the heels of widely publicized new data showing that the Chinese fertility rate in 2020 was only 1.3 per woman, which is similar to that of Japan (1.36 in 2019) and notably lower than that of the United States (1.7). But a below-replacement fertility rate is only one part of China’s demographic problem. A second issue is the sheer size of its older population. Before 1971, Chinese family-planning policies were pro-natal, restricting access to contraceptives and family-planning education. As a result, the country’s current or soon-to-be elderly population has grown particularly large: the size of the population aged 15-24 is only around 72% that of those aged 45-54, compared to 79% in Japan and 100% in the US. This top-heavy demographic structure makes the problem of declining fertiliSubscribe, register or login to read the rest. Registered users can access a limited amount of content for free.Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.