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生活成本高,中国夫妇放弃生二胎

更新时间:2014-2-26 20:07:38 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Many Couples in China Will Pass on a New Chance for a Second Child
生活成本高,中国夫妇放弃生二胎

BEIJING — After three decades of a Chinese policy that limits most families to one child, many families say they will not take advantage of a major change allowing a second child because of the rising cost of child-rearing.

北京——中国施行了三十年的计划生育政策,对多数家庭做出一胎限制。尽管如今政策有了重大转变,允许生两个孩子,但许多家庭表示,由于养育孩子的成本不断攀升,他们不会利用新政策。

“With two kids you have less money to give them the best,” said Mao Xiaodan, 27, a Beijing lawyer seven weeks into her first pregnancy who has dismissed the prospect of a second child. She said she was concerned about stratospheric housing prices and the high cost of schooling. “My husband’s co-worker has twins,” she said, “and just paying for elementary school has nearly bankrupted him.”

“有两个孩子的话,就没那么多钱给他们提供最好的东西,”27岁的北京律师毛晓丹(音译)排除了生二胎的可能性。怀上第一胎已有七周的她表示,高居不下的房价和教育成本让她忧心忡忡。“我老公的同事生了一对双胞胎,光是供孩子上小学就让他差点破产,”她说。

Under the new policy, the most significant overhaul of China’s family planning rules in 30 years, married couples in which just one parent is an only child can have a second baby. The previous rules allowed two children for couples in which both parents are only children. The old policy also made exceptions for China’s officially recognized ethnic minorities and rural couples whose first child was a girl or disabled.

新政策是对过去三十年的计划生育规定进行的最为重大的变革。它允许夫妻双方中仅一人为独生子女的家庭生第二个孩子。之前的规定是,夫妻双方需均为独生子女,才能生二孩。老政策还规定,官方认定的少数民族、首胎是女孩的农村家庭,以及第一个子女残疾的家庭可以例外。

The government estimates that the reform will allow an additional 15 to 20 million couples to expand their families, helping to stem a plummeting birthrate that experts say has left China with a dangerous demographic imbalance in both age and sex. But only about half of those couples are willing to have two children, according to research by the National Health and Planning Commission cited in state media.

政府预测,此项改革将允许1500万到2000万对夫妇扩充他们的家庭,从而有利于遏制出生率的大幅下降。专家们表示,出生率问题已使得中国人口结构在年龄和性别上双双呈现危险的失衡态势。不过,根据官方媒体援引的国家卫生与计划生育委员会所做的研究,符合条件的夫妻中,仅有大约一半具有生育两个孩子的意愿。

In interviews, many couples blamed the rising cost of living for their reluctance to have more than one child. Some cited a persistent cultural norm that requires husbands to provide an apartment, a car and other material riches to a bride, demands that can push an extended family deep into debt.

在采访中,许多夫妇将不愿多生的想法归咎于生活成本的持续攀升。一些人的理由则是,顽固的文化惯例要求,丈夫给新娘提供房车等物质财富,而这种需求可能将大家庭推入债务的深渊。

Maggie Ding, 36, a university lecturer with an infant son, incorporated those costs into her reproductive calculus and decided a second child would be potentially ruinous. “I would run the risk of having two boys,” she said. “That means double the mortgage and the pressure. It’s too overwhelming to even think about.”

36岁的大学讲师玛吉·丁(Maggie Ding,音译)是一名男婴的妈妈。她将这些花销都算进自己的生育成本中,结论是第二个孩子可能会造成极大的破坏。“我可能会有两个男孩,”她说。“那就意味着两倍的房贷和压力。想想就觉得负担不起。”

Such sentiments are likely to conspire against government efforts to correct the demographic imbalance that produced the new policy.

人口结构失衡催生了计生新政策,但类似的情绪很可能会破坏政府的种种努力。

The imbalance is a result of Chinese using various sex selection methods to have a son under the one-child policy.

之所以会失衡,是因为中国民众采取各种性别选择手段来保证一胎政策下能生出儿子。

Since its inception in 1979, the so-called one-child policy has been credited with helping foster China’s surging economy by slowing population growth. But the family planning restrictions have produced an array of unintended consequences. In 2012, there were about 40 million more men than women, including 18 million more boys than girls under the age of 15. By 2020, the government estimates that 30 million eligible bachelors will be unable to find a wife.

所谓的“一胎政策”始于1979年,被认为减缓了中国的人口增长,从而促进了该国经济高速增长。可是,计划生育的限制催生了一系列意想不到的后果。2012年,男性比女性多出了4000万人左右,在15岁以下的人口中,男孩比女孩多出了1800万。政府预测,到2020年,将有3000万适龄单身男性没法找到配偶。

Beyond a surplus of single men, some economists have warned of an impending elder-care crisis, noting that China’s working-age population peaked in 2012, leaving fewer gainfully employed people on hand to take care of their parents and other older relatives.. Last year, there were 194 million people over the age of 60 in China, the largest population in that age group in the world.

除了多出来单身男性的问题,一些经济学家还警告,中国即将迎来老年人赡养危机。他们指出,中国的劳动年龄人口于2012年达到峰值,因此,能够赡养父母等年长亲属的就业人口数将变得更少。去年,中国60岁以上的人口达1.94亿,规模在全球居首。

The state media has praised the latest reforms as necessary for addressing the looming crisis. “In the long run, the new policy is expected to help facilitate family development, promote happiness and increase the ability of families to care for the elderly,” the official Xinhua news service said in December. The changes, which were announced late last year, have been introduced in six provinces and regions, including Beijing on Friday, with another 20 expected by the end of 2014.

官方媒体称赞,为了应对这种即将到来的危机,最新的改革举措是非常有必要的。去年12月,官方的新华网称,“长远看,启动实施单独两孩政策,将增强家庭发展能力和养老照料功能,促进家庭幸福。”这项政策变动于去年底对外公布,已在六个省市自治区实施,北京于上周五启动,另有20个省份预计将在2014年底前推进。

But there are concerns over how effective the reforms will be. On Monday, the Qianjiang Evening News, a state-run newspaper in the coastal province of Zhejiang, reported that one month after the province began a trial period for the new policy in three cities, only 300 applications for a second child had been received, far lower than expected.

但人们担心改革会有多大效果。周一,沿海省份浙江省的官方报纸《钱江晚报》报道称,该省一个月前开始在三个城市进行试点,目前只有300人提交了二胎申请,远远低于预期。

There are, of course, many parents eager to take advantage of the newly relaxed rules. As she waited her turn to see a doctor one recent morning, Sun Li, a 35-year-old television station executive nearly nine months pregnant, griped about her aching hips while bemoaning the capital’s toxic air. But asked if she would do it all again, she nodded enthusiastically. “We’re already planning on having another baby,” she said. “An only child is too lonely. It’s better to have two.”

当然,有很多父母渴望利用新近放宽的规定。35岁的电视台管理人员孙丽(音译)已经怀孕将近9个月。最近的一个早晨,她在排队看医生时,一边抱怨髋部疼痛难忍,一边为北京的有毒空气而叹息。但被问到是否会要二胎时,她急忙点头。“我们已经计划要二胎了,”她说。“一个孩子太孤单了。两个好一些。”

But Ms. Sun will have to wait to benefit from the reforms. According to the Beijing government, a second child must be born at least four years after the first, and only to mothers over 28 years old.

但孙丽需要等待,才能从改革中获益。北京市政府规定,一二胎的生育间隔不少于四年,女方年龄不低于28周岁。

Family-planning reforms are unlikely to address what many critics say is the lasting trauma that countless families, and especially women, endured over the past three decades. They include crushing fines for those who violated the rules, soaring rates of female infanticide, involuntary sterilizations and forced abortions. According to government figures, 24 Chinese provinces and other regions in 2012 collected about $3.29 billion in fines, with little accounting for where the money went.

计划生育改革不太可能解决很多批评人士所说的问题——无数家庭,特别是女性在过去30年中忍受的持续性创伤。这些创伤包括因为缴纳计划生育罚款而倾家荡产,弑杀女婴的比率飙升,强制节育和堕胎。政府数据显示,2012年,中国24个省份及其他地区的罚款总额高达32.9亿美元(约合200亿元人民币),但几乎没有提及这些资金的去向。

Despite the most recent regulatory changes, China’s baby bureaucracy remains invasive, evidence of the state’s grip on all aspects of life, beginning in the womb.

尽管最近进行了一些监管改革,但中国的计划生育机构仍在侵犯隐私,证明了国家对生活各个方面的掌控——从子宫开始。

To ensure their baby is born legally, Chinese couples still need a government-issued “family planning service certificate,” which often takes months to obtain. “Just getting the birth permit is so much trouble,” said Natalie Wong, 27, who is six months pregnant and works for a television station in the eastern coastal city of Xiamen.

为了确保孩子合法出生,中国的夫妇仍然需要政府发放的“计划生育服务证”,他们通常需要等待数月才能拿到此证。27岁的娜塔莉·王(Natalie Wong,音译)已有六个月的身孕,她在东部沿海城市厦门的一家电视台工作。她说,“光拿准生证就会遇到很多困难。”

The process requires prospective parents to collect over a dozen official stamps from neighborhood committees, family planning departments and other agencies in their official hometowns, even if they have long since moved away.

要想拿到准生证,准父母们需要到居委会、计划生育部门及家乡的其他部门盖十几个章,即便他们很久之前就离开了家乡。

“You’d better start applying the minute your baby is conceived, otherwise you might not get the permit before it’s born,” said David Chen, 30, an Internet technology developer in Beijing whose wife was pregnant with their second child.

30岁的网络技术开发人员戴维·陈(David Chen,音译)说,“最好一怀孕就开始申请,否则在孩子出生前,你可能拿不到准生证。”陈先生在北京工作,他的妻子现在怀了第二个孩子。

The quest for such documents allows employers, bureaucrats and neighbors to peer deep into a couple’s private life. Mr. Chen and his wife, both only children, had to provide their marriage license, birth certificates and residency permits before they could get the green light for a second child.

相关规定要求提交此类文件,雇主、官员及邻居因此得以深入窥探一对夫妻的私生活。陈先生和妻子都是独生子女,他们在获准生二胎之前,提供了结婚证、出生证和居住证。

Each of their parents also had to get stamps from their work units and several government departments proving that the expectant couple was legally eligible. Although Mr. Chen sent the documents by express mail, approval still took months.

双方父母还需要到工作单位及几个政府部门盖章,证明这对即将迎来孩子的夫妻在法律上是有资格的。虽然陈先生已经发快件寄出了这些文件,但获得批准还需要几个月的时间。

“Local officials don’t always know how to handle the procedures, so that really stalled the process,” he said.

他说,“地方官员往往不知道怎么办手续,实际上拖延了这个过程。”

Sitting in the beige-colored prenatal waiting area at Chaoyang Hospital in central Beijing, Wang Xueyan, 32, fiddled with his smartphone alongside scores of other expectant fathers awaiting the latest update from the doctor. Because he has no siblings, but his wife does, the policy change will help fulfill his dream of a larger nuclear family. “We’re hoping the more children we have, the more they’ll support us when we’re old,” he said.

32岁的王雪岩(音译)摆弄着手机,他和很多准爸爸一同坐在位于北京市中心的朝阳医院的米色产前等候区,等待医生的最新消息。他是独生子,但他的妻子不是,新政策将帮助他实现拥有更大家庭的梦想。他说,“我们希望孩子越多,在老的时候得到的照顾越多。”

Strangely, at least for China, Mr. Wang’s mother-in-law has been lobbying against the prospect of two grandchildren. “She’s worried that siblings will fight over the inheritance,” he said.

奇怪的是——至少在中国很奇怪,王雪岩的岳母一直反对有两个孙辈。他说,“她担心兄弟姐妹会争夺遗产。”

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