Demography is probably one of the most mythologized parts of the social activity. If birth rate drops and death rate rises, everyone begins to dilate on bloody crimes of antinational regime. If the situation is opposite, everybody thanks the omnipotent government.
Demographic processes develop slowly, and large-scale shocks are to influence many generations. If the demographic pattern changes when the quantity of people of childbearing age is small, they leave the birth of their first baby until later. Young people prefer to improve their lives and make a career at first. As a result, sharp and abrupt birth rate decrease takes place. If people of advanced age constitute the major part of population, the death rate increases. If these two processes are going on simultaneously, the country slides into a demographic ‘pit’. The decrease of the total number of population looks rather dramatic. Thus, it is very convenient to blame the government for the demographic catastrophe.
Birth limitation program (one child in one family) adopted in China in the 1970s was fruitful. The nation’s official number of prevented births equals 400 million.
The program allows city and village families to have only one and two children accordingly. Parents are fined for ‘above-the-plan’ children. Such children do not have a right to any social service – parents should pay for their education and medical care for their own account. Well, cruel but effective. The country evaded starvation, epidemics and other social disasters, which take place when the quantity of people exceeds that of recourses, probably thanks to this program.
But this miracle has its seamy side – the birth of unplanned children is simply concealed, they are not registered and have no passports. The number of Chinese people who do not de jure exist equals 100 million according to some data. These are girls and women for the most part, boys always were ‘more valuable’ in the Oriental society.
Often parents tried to get rid of girls in order to leave a ‘vacancy’ for an ‘official’ child – a boy. Sometimes they even sold them into sex slavery. Why not? These children do not officially exist, thus, they have no rights and nobody would be punished for their barbaric exploitation. Their lives are not worth a yuan. Critics of the Chinese miracle believe it is these working women who produce cheap Chinese down-padded coats, souvenirs and radio sets in exchange for skilly two times a day.
Chinese authorities do not admit the existence of phantom-people, but admit another serious problem – ‘sexual selection’ of future children with the help of abortion. In China 100 born girls correspond to 117 (or even 134 according to some data) boys, when normally there should be 104. The reason for it is the same: many mothers abort when their future child is female, it is more valuable to have a boy. This sad situation resembles a time bomb.
The thing is that the natural balance of boys and girls fails for some reasons (which are not always as clear as in China); the quantity of boys exceeds the norm. So, in some twenty years the society would face great shocks – revolutions, wars, crusades, etc. Men that have no opportunity for marriage are rather aggressive.
Thus, China tries to do something now: forbid the ‘sexual character’ abortions, pay benefits to the families whose only child is a girl, etc. Well, we will see what would come out of it.
While China and India relatively successfully limit the birth rate and Africa population increases at incredible speed, developed countries try to solve quite arbitrary problem. In Europe, America and Russia the birth rate is to low to provide the natural reproduction of population, to say nothing of the population growth. Unfortunately, this problem can not be effectively solved. One of the main demography laws runs that the more educated women are the lower the birth rate is. Of course, there are other factors – national and religious traditions, social support measures, etc – but they can not change the general tendency.
The UN experts forecast that 84 percent of people would leave in underdeveloped countries by 2025.
It is impossible to make women give birth to children. Even if it was possible, that would mean prohibition of contraception, women deprivation of civil rights, purposeful medicine worsening, etc. All these measures would lead us to unfortunate results.
Child benefits are of little use, 5-10 thousand rubles ($200-400) could hardly be serious incentive at least for those people who earn more than 30 thousand rubles pro months. Thus, direct financing increases the birth rate only among poorest and problem families and also in the regions with traditionally high birth rate (for example, Ciscaucasia in Russia). The alteration of child benefits in Russia can only urge more successful people to shift the child’s birth that was planned beforehand. However, such small changes can not influence the general tendency.
To simplify maternity, social life and professional success combination is the only way to slow down demographic problems development. Budgetary funds should be distributed not only to direct child benefits but also to the children service development. Professional baby-sitters, kindergartens , qualitative health service, paternity support, underemployment development and family cafes in malls are wanted. The state should grant discounts to the companies that employ women of childbearing age. Only such infrastructure would make it possible for women to bear children and realize their personal, professional and creative ambitions at the same time.
Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina