Very Clever, Those Chinese

Famously, Mark Steyn claimed that China would be the first country to “get old before it gets rich,” thanks to its one-child policy. I scoffed at that for two reasons.

1. Beijing almost certainly didn’t enjoy enough control outside the cities.

2. You can’t trust any statistics, but especially the ones coming out of (officially) communist countries.

Well, it looks like I was wrong and Steyn was right. Read:

For the first time in 30 years, officials in the country’s economic capital have urged eligible parents to plan for a second child. The move was prompted by the growing demographic imbalance in the city and fears that the younger generation will not be able to support the ageing population. The one-child system, where all pregnancies are monitored and sometimes terminated by order, was enforced to control a population that is the largest in the world at more than 1.3 billion.

“We advocate eligible couples to have two kids because it can help to reduce the proportion of the ageing people and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future,” said Xie Linli, the director of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

That’s only a partial reversal, but still quite stunning.