I'd submit that the one-child policy of the past didn't drastically affect rural farmers, a demographic covering at least two thirds of China's population in past decades. Families residing in these rural surroundings were pretty much exempted from the one-child policy, if not circumvented entirely via loopholes to sustain fertility rate of bearing at least two children per household on average. So the lifting of two-child limit set five years ago wouldn't drastically challenge the traditional principles of ruralites. Despite influx of rural migrations to cities, those who've remained in rural outskirts (or have returned) constitute a bulk of the nation's population... still. Perhaps the new census could correct that statement if mistaken.
As for urban households... it is often said the prince/princess are shouldered by six parental figures as the pseudo nuclear family. The mother, father, and two sets of grandparents. That amounts to ample college savings for the additional emperors/empresses-to-be. Outside the core family unit, the relatives are close knitted, akin to the 15 Asian elephants that recently trekked >400km northbound toward Kunming. Cousins are often referred to as siblings, while extended relatives would live in relative close proximity. Often in the same residential complex or community in order to be near the tribal elders so to speak. Cohesiveness of filial piety cultures in the East vary significantly from that of the West, such that this Confucian formula lessens the reliance on support networks found in Western religious communities. (Btw, Buddhism is quite prevalent in Chinese culture, despite China often being labelled as atheists) Will additional immediate family members compromise the integrity of this one or two-child familial paradigm? Time will tell. But time is perceived as ticking faster for an aging Party that will celebrate their 100th anniversary in a month, so the three-child policy is worth a gamble.
Other policies we've been seeing on the news lately could supplementally be aimed in tandem at increasing the birth rate.
China has historically achieved high savings rate, which nearly doubles the savings rate of the US. In the near future these household savings may be reallocated for extra child rearing expenditures. Also the proposed new property tax laws may attempt to discourage property speculation. With hopes of shifting white elephants to liquid assets for childcare & education. Beijing's new policies targeting the tutoring industry may be implemented to reign in the after-school rat race. To lessen disposable income pressures for parents with multiple kids. We'll see.
My observations of Chinese grandparents' child raising is more on the negative side. Certainly they can help with infants and toddlers, but the problems start at older age. Teenagers, you know.
Given a city-dwelling couple today that decides to have 3 children, would be looking at possible 9 grandchildren by their retirement age. Not much time for mahjong or traveling.
When out for our walk yesterday afternoon my wife met a couple she knows who were out with their grandson in his stroller.
She asked about when they would have another grandchild.
The response was "too expensive".
These days parents (and possibly grandparents) spend a fortune sending their little ones to those overpriced private kindergartens.
Having a kid in urban places is very competitive, face, expense issue. One reason why the 2 kid policy was not so successful. 3 kid policy will not make much of a difference either in cities. But in rural areas and where people don't desire the whole material, face, send kids to top univeristy culture, it could encourage more kids. Accidental pregnancy for 2nd or 3rd time are also not needed to be terminated.
China's a planned economy. Things announced today - slowly implemented with the associated logistics, such as increased incomes, schools, healthcare, etc.
The best place to inspire extra children are rural areas - so increasing the incomes and benefits of rural citizens can show a faster response, although the impact on increasing contributions to declining social welfare benefits will not be recognized for another 16+ years, depending on when they start paying income taxes.
China doesn't currently depend on income tax of its workers the same way western countries do.
In particular rural residents, most of them, never in their lives go above the current 5000 RMB per month limit to pay taxes. Even in cities like Kunming lot of jobs are below that.
The problem of shrinking workforce is slightly different problem here than elsewhere. Despite all the talk of AI and robotics, China still needs hands to make things, and above all consumers to drive the economy.
2 child policy caused a small bump in the birth rate, the three child policy will produce an even smaller bump. This change only affects those who already have two children, not the vast majority who have no children and still don't want any. All over the developed world, they have the same problem. In Europe and US, they have opened the borders to allow large number of immigrants to enter and have loads of kids, causing other problems. China (and Japan where the collapse is faster) are not going to do that. It remains to be seen what the Chinese government will do to bolster the birth rate.....This policy change won't be the last!
Rural industrialization to increase incomes of rural people to achieve some kind of reasonable parity with city-dwellers is in China's Five Year Plans. It'll take years, if not decades for the infrastructure and policies to mature, before the general public migrates to the 3-child policy - but rural farmers have traditionally had larger families. I once had the opportunity to meet a farmer in Kunming, with 14 children - all from one wife, ranging in age from a newborn to 45 years old, so I suspect the relaxation will generally be more noticeable in rural areas first.
China's family planning policies allegedly only applied to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group. Other minorities allegedly have no such restrictions (economics etc aside).
Yes, minorities were excluded from family planning. Still my wife, who is Yi and the youngest of 3 siblings, always jokes how her parents had to "buy" her. There was some kind of fee/fine for having her in the 80s.
I have little experience of rural China outside Yunnan, but it is my understanding that it's rougher up here than in many other provinces.
From what I have seen here, I cannot imagine lot of rural families wanting to have more children without intent and possibility to send them to study, work and live in cities. Even sending them to Yiwu to make sneakers may not be a viable option in coming decades.
In the mountains you simply don't have enough flat land to farm. Maybe somewhere else there is justification to raise more farmers, but also in those places farming machinery works better.
Mind you these are places that should be also high on China's poverty reduction agenda, and having more babies in already impoverished villages would be quite counter-productive.
Interesting. I know when I was there I had both Jahovas Witnesses and Mormons try to evangelize me. I wonder if this is why and/or its becoming problematic. Keep us posted