China is desperately trying to diffuse its demographic time bomb

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – With China facing a demographic crisis of stalling birth rates and a fast-aging population, one city has taken a novel approach: a direct call to action aimed at young government officials to lead the way and have a second child.

The government of Yichang city in central Hubei province posted an open letter calling for young cadres to have more children to stem a slide in birth rates in the city which has started to hit economic growth.

China’s demographic time-bomb has become increasingly urgent of late as the country faces its slowest economic growth in a quarter of a century, with a sluggish manufacturing sector hit by a dearth of cheap labor due in part to a shrinking workforce.

“Young cadres have to take the lead having a second child, while elder cadres should urge them on,” the letter said, citing the need to bolster the city’s working population and raise a fertility rate that has fallen below one child per woman.