On Twitter Chris Mims expresses the entirely reasonable proposition that China’s low fertility is a prescription for long term socioeconomic disaster (they’re already beyond “peak worker”), with a link to an article in Quartz, China’s ratio of boys to girls is still dangerously high—and it’s the Chinese government’s fault. First, I’ve noted before that in East Asian societies where male preference was the norm this can shift very quickly. It happened to South Korea over the past 10 years, and it happened in Japan a generation ago. To my knowledge this was more of a matter of “bottom-up” cultural changes than government policy.
Second, the one child policy matters less than we think it does.
For what it’s worth, Taiwan’s fertility rate was 1.12 in 2005. The relative ignorance of these trends in East Asia (i.e., beyond China) among the public is reflective of the reality that in some ways the West is very cultural self-centered. Similarly, most Westerners observing European secularization are totally unaware that East Asian societies have long been the most irreligious on the face of the planet (before Communism as well).