《经济学人》:中国人口,出乎意料的人口危机
日期:2011-05-16 09:49

(单词翻译:单击)

China's population中国人口
The most surprising demographic crisis出乎意料的人口危机
A new census raises questions about the future of China’s one-child policy
新的人口普查结果对中国独生子女政策的未来提出了质疑

DOES China have enough people? The question might seem absurd. The country has long been famous both for having the world’s largest population and for having taken draconian measures to restrain its growth. Though many people, Chinese and outsiders alike, have looked aghast at the brutal and coercive excesses of the one-child policy, there has also often been a grudging acknowledgment that China needed to do something to keep its vast numbers in check.

中国人够多吗?这个问题够傻的。这个国家一直以来都因为它居于世界首位的庞大人口以及为了控制人口增长而实行的严格政策而享有盛名。尽管许多中国人以及外国人对这项独生子女政策的不讲理以及高压手段瞠目结舌,最终他们还是勉强承认中国需要这项政策来控制庞大的人口。

But new census figures bolster claims made in the past few years that China is suffering from a demographic problem of a different sort: too low a birth rate. The latest numbers, released on April 28th and based on the nationwide census conducted last year, show a total population for mainland China of 1.34 billion. They also reveal a steep decline in the average annual population growth rate, down to 0.57% in 2000-10, half the rate of 1.07% in the previous decade. The data imply that the total fertility rate, which is the number of children a woman of child-bearing age can expect to have, on average, during her lifetime, may now be just 1.4, far below the “replacement rate” of 2.1, which eventually leads to the population stabilising.

但是新的全国人口普查数据却证实了过去几年关于中国面临一个截然不同的人口危机的断言,即中国的人口出生率过低。刚于4月28日发布的数据(根据去年进行的全国人口普查结果)显示,中国大陆拥有13亿4千万人口。而年均人口增长率的巨幅下降也跃然纸上:中国年均人口增长率在2000到2010这个10年的区间中下降到了0.57%, 是1990-2000这10年的一半。这份数据显示总生育率,也就是一位孕龄女性在其一生将平均会有1.4个孩子,远远低于2.1的人口更替水平,而人口更替水平是维持人口稳定的标准。

Slower growth is matched by a dramatic ageing of the population. People above the age of 60 now represent 13.3% of the total, up from 10.3% in 2000 (see chart). In the same period, those under the age of 14 declined from 23% to 17%. A continuation of these trends will place ever greater burdens on the working young who must support their elderly kin, as well as on government-run pension and health-care systems. China’s great “demographic dividend” (a rising share of working-age adults) is almost over.

In addition to skewing the country’s age distribution, the one-child policy has probably exacerbated its dire gender imbalance. Many more baby boys are born in China than baby girls. China is not unique in this; other countries, notably India, have encountered similar problems without coercive population controls. But Chinese officials do not dispute that the one-child policy has played a role. China’s strong cultural imperative for male offspring has led many families to do whatever they must to ensure that their one permissible child is a son. In the earliest days of the one-child policy, this sometimes meant female infanticide. As ultrasound technology spread, sex-selective abortions became widespread.

独生子女政策带来的不仅仅是人口年龄分布倾斜,还很可能加剧了中国严重的性别比例失调。在中国,男婴比女婴更多。而在这一点上中国并不孤单;其他国家,尤其是印度,也遇到了类似的问题,然而印度并没有强制性控制人口。但是中国官员不容争辩的强调独生子女政策有重要作用。中国重视男性子嗣的深远文化传统令千万家庭想尽一切办法保证这唯一孩子是个男孩。而超声波技术的普及也使得具有性别歧视意味的堕胎更加普遍。

The new census data show that little progress is being made to counter this troubling trend. Among newborns, there were more than 118 boys for every 100 girls in 2010. This marks a slight increase over the 2000 level, and implies that, in about 20 or 25 years’ time, there will not be enough brides for almost a fifth of today’s baby boys—with the potentially vast destabilising consequences that could have.

新的人口普查数据表明解决这个问题的努力收效甚微。2010年新生儿的男女比例大于118:100,这略高于2000年的水平,并且暗示着在未来20到25年的时间内,中国现阶段出生的5分之1的男孩将找不到他们的妻子,并且还会伴随着潜在的巨大不稳定后果。

The census results are likely to intensify debate in China between the powerful population-control bureaucracy and an increasingly vocal group of academic demographers calling for a relaxation of the one-child policy. Their disagreement involves not only the policy’s future, but also (as so often in China) its past.

这次人口普查结果很有可能会激化中国国内存在于持有特权的控制人口的官僚阶层和不断增长的呼吁人口统计学专家之间的辩论,这些学者呼吁放松独生子女政策。他们之间的辩论不仅会从设计政治远景,也将触及过去,而这在中国并非鲜见。

One of the academics, Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy, argues that China’s demographic pattern had already changed dramatically by the time the one-child policy began in 1980. The total fertility rate had been 5.8 in 1950, he notes, and had declined sharply to 2.3 by 1980, just above replacement level.

担任布鲁金斯—清华公共政策研究中心的主任的王丰作为学者派之一,认为中国的人口模式在自1980年独生子女政策实行以来已经发生了巨大改变。他解释说,1950年总生育率为5.8,而1980年巨幅下降至2.3,略微高于人口更替水平的底线。

Other countries achieved similar declines in fertility during the same period. The crucial influences, Mr Wang reckons, are the benefits of development, including better health care and sharp drops in high infant-mortality rates which led people to have many children in order to ensure that at least some would survive. By implication, coercive controls had little to do with lowering fertility, which would have happened anyway. Countries that simply improved access to contraceptives—Thailand and Indonesia, for instance—did as much to reduce fertility as China, with its draconian policies. Taiwan, which the government in Beijing regards as an integral part of China, cut its fertility rate as much as China without population controls.

其他国家自此期间的人口生育率也表现出了大幅下降的趋势。王丰认为这很大程度上是归结于福利条件的改善,包括更好的医疗保障以及婴儿早夭率的大幅下降,而从前婴儿早夭率居高不下使得许多家庭为了保证能有孩子存活下来而尽量多生。他暗含的意思也就是中国对人口的严格控制于低迷的生育率之间并无直接联系,生育率下降是历史的趋势。而像泰国和印度尼西亚这样的国家仅仅是通过提高避孕用品的普及度,也在降低出生率方面取得了和中国通过严格控制获得的同样效果。而中国政府称为其领土不可分割的一部分的台湾,尽管没有采取人口控制,也取得类似的效果。

The government denies the one-child policy was irrelevant. It insists that, thanks to the policy, 400m births were averted which would otherwise have taken place, and which the country could not have afforded. Ma Jiantang, head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, insisted “the momentum of fast growth in our population has been controlled effectively thanks to the family-planning policy.”

中国政府肯定了独生子女的存在价值。政府坚持称正是由于这项政策,中国才避免了4亿人口的负担,否则中国就会多出国家疲于应对的4亿人口。国家统计局局长马建堂坚持称“多亏了独生子女政策,人口快速增长的势头得意控制”。

There are many reasons for the government’s hard-line defence of its one-child policy. One is a perhaps understandable view that China is unique, and that other countries’ experience is irrelevant. A second is that, though the policy may not have done much to push fertility down at first, it might be keeping it low now. A third is that, if controls were lifted, population growth might rise. In fact, there is little justification for such fears: in practice, the one-child policy varies from place to place; it hardly applies to China’s minorities and is more lightly applied in rural areas—and there is no population boom in those parts.

中国政府对于独生子女政策的笃信处于很多原因。其中一个可以说是也许能令人理解的原因是中国的独特性,也就是其他国家的经验不能照搬。另一个原因是,独生子女政策虽然并没能在一开始降低出生率,但它可能保持现在低出生率水平。此外,如果放松控制,人口增长率可能再次上升。实际上,这些担心完全是多余的:正在实施中的独生子女政策在中国各地的各不相同的,同时它也很难应用于中国的少数民族和农村地区,而在这些地区并没有人口急速发展的趋势。

Anyway, argues Joan Kaufman of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, official support for the policy is only partly to do with its perceived merits: it is also the product of resistance by China’s family-planning bureaucracy. This has massive institutional clout (and local governments have a vested interest in the fines collected from violators). “The one-child policy is their raison d’être,” says Ms Kaufman.

布兰代斯大学的海勒社会政策与管理学院的Joan Kaufman女士认为,不管怎么样,官员对这项政策的支持部分原因只是出于他们在此有利可图:而这同样也是为什么人口控制的官僚机构对此持反对态度。独生子女政策背后是巨大的政府势力(当地政府从违反者的罚金中取得他们的既得利益)。“独生子女政策对他们来说理所当然”,Kaufman女士说。

Mr Wang and his colleagues argue the one-child policy should go. The target reductions in fertility rates were reached long ago. Current rates, he says, are below replacement levels and are unsustainable. The time has come for the first big step: a switch to a two-child policy. Research by his group suggests few families in China would choose to have more than two.

王丰和他的同事们则认为独生子女政策应当继续。出生率下降的指标早就已经完成。但他说目前的出生率水平是低于人口更替水平,并且很不稳定。迈出重要一步的时刻已经来临——从一个孩子变成两个孩子。他所在的研究小组表示几乎不会有中国家庭或作出两个孩子以上的选择。

There are signs that the academics are succeeding in their campaign to make the population debate less politicised and more evidence-based. Mr Ma of the National Statistics Bureau spoke not only of adhering to the family-planning policy, but also of “cautiously and gradually improving the policy to promote more balanced population growth in the country”. In his comments on the census, President Hu Jintao included a vague hint that change could be in the offing. China would maintain a low birth rate, he said. But it would also “stick to and improve” its current family-planning policy. That hardly seems a nod to a free-for-all. But perhaps a “two-for-all” may not be out of the question.

已经有迹象表明学者们正试图让这场人口之争规避政治因素,而更多地向理性证据靠拢。国家统计局局长马建堂并没有提到继续之前的独生子女政策,取而代之则是“谨慎地逐渐改进政策以促进中国更加平衡的人口增长”。在对于全国人口普查的意见中,胡锦涛主席模糊地暗示政策的变动可能近在眼前。中国的仍将保持低出生率水平,他表示,但是同时也将“坚持并改善”目前的独生子女政策——想生几个就生几个似乎不太可能,但是两个孩子也许还有希望。

分享到
重点单词
  • switchn. 开关,转换,鞭子 v. 转换,改变,交换,鞭打
  • massiveadj. 巨大的,大规模的,大量的,大范围的
  • survivevt. 比 ... 活得长,幸免于难,艰难度过 vi.
  • absurdadj. 荒唐的 n. 荒唐
  • imbalancen. 不平衡,失调
  • declinen. 衰微,跌落; 晚年 v. 降低,婉谢
  • previousadj. 在 ... 之前,先,前,以前的
  • replacementn. 更换,接替者
  • irrelevantadj. 不恰当的,无关系的,不相干的
  • distributionn. 分发,分配,散布,分布