China Family Planning
BEIJING- The people living in farming communities Chengde, about 150 miles northeast here in Hebei Province don’t talk much about Cairo or the results of the Conference on Population and Development held there last September. But the Cairo Conference is already having an effect on their lives.
Reports from Chengde say local officials of the family planning program are turning their attention away from “strict administrative control” and toward providing health care women of childbearing age. Officials have even begun offering help to infertile couples trying to conceive. Greater attention to reproductive health care was one of the principal changes in family planning policy endorsed by the Cairo Conference’s program of action. It also called for less emphasis on numerical population goals.
Chengde has often been cited for the success of its family program in reducing population
When the program was instituted in the 1980s, the birth rate in the area was 17.6 per thousand; by 1992 the birth rate had dropped to 11.7 per thousand.
According to Pei Kunlin” director of Chengde’s family planning commission, as quoted in the newspaper China Daily, the shift in emphasis from population “targets” toward education and health services will increase the cost of the program. Pei said local family planning workers still face the threat of a potential population explosion.’ “Once we are lax in family planning,” said Pei, “all that we have achieved· is spoiled.”
Officials in Chengde have begun using financial incentives to encourage couples to limit the size of their families. One example: Only families with one child (or two daughters) can receive priority for loans.’ Local authorities are also buying these couple pension insurance to provide security in their later years.
“Only in this way,” said Pei, “will we be able to overcome the traditional thinking that favors boys but not girls.”