A few days ago, the State Council published “Suggestions for advancing reform of the household registration system” (《关于进一步推进户籍制度改革的意见》), demonstrating respect for peoples’ desire to independently decide where to live, effectively removing the distinction between agricultural and non-agricultural and unifying the registration system for rural and urban residencies. Although this action does have great significance, the authors of this article believe that in large part, the content of these suggestions still retain a strong ideological lean towards that of a planned economy, especially that which calls for “particularly strict control of population in big cities,” which in their opinion, will have a harmful effect on the future development of China.
Although China has steadily moved towards a market economy system since Reform and Opening of the 1980s, the Chinese government has retained a strong legacy of its earlier socialist years—population control. But family planning has drastically distorted the makeup of the Chinese population, and attempts to limit the size of large cities such as Beijing have clearly failed. Many complain that Beijing’s population control policies are not effective enough, but in fact, the authors of this article argue that the issue lies within the shortsightedness of the planning itself, setting unrealistic population targets and failing to allocate sufficient resources for the reality of the situation.
With a simple economics lesson, the authors explain that while the benefits of moving to a big city like Beijing outweigh the costs, the population will continue to grow. This growth is not indefinite, because as soon as equilibrium is reached, when living costs equal the benefits, then the city will stop growing. Population control measures are preventing this natural equilibrium from occurring, resulting in broad harm to society as a whole.
Beijing continues to grow, and the authors argue that this is a good thing. Migrants fills shortages in labor, young adults balance the age structure in businesses, new families makeup up for the low-fertility rates that currently exist in many cities like Beijing. The universities and enterprises in big cities can attract and bring together new talent and innovative ideas, unused land can be developed, and more extensive public transportation can be supported, helping the entire city and country progress as a whole.