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“单独二胎”或降房价

Nin-Hai Tseng 2013年11月19日

在中国,求婚的典型必备品是房子。计划生育政策的放宽,有望缓解目前因男多女少导致的异常激烈的婚恋竞争,给房市降温。

    即便是对中国所知不多的人,也听说过计划生育政策,这项政策限制大部分中国夫妇只能生一个孩子。1980年,这个全球人口最多的国家颁布了这一法律,其原意是出于对人口增长过快所带来的资源消耗和伤害经济增长的担忧。中国的人口出生率从70年代的每名妇女生育4.77个儿童锐减至2011年的1.64个,但是这些年来,这一政策显示出了无数后遗症,包括强制绝育和流产,以及重男轻女导致的女性人口短缺失衡。

    上周,中国领导人表示将放宽计划生育政策,允许有一方为独生子女的夫妇生二胎。目前,除非夫妻双方都是独生子女,否则仍只能要一个孩子;如果农村家庭的第一个孩子是女孩的话,可以生第二胎。政策变化的原因在于中国正寻求解决人口迅速老龄化背后所隐现的劳工短缺问题。这一人口结构的变化也将出人意料地影响到中国经济的某一块——蓬勃发展的房地产市场。

    房价长期上涨,已超出了很多中国人的承受范围。一些研究发现,中国房价的飙升与日益扩大的男女比例失衡有关。因为男性比女性多很多(15-30岁适婚年龄段中的男女比例为1.15:1),中国的婚恋竞争已变得异常激烈。

    在美国,闪闪发光的钻石是“你愿意嫁给我吗?”的最佳代言,然而,在中国,求婚的典型必备品是房子。作为挑选如意郎君的标准,女性往往期待男性要么拥有自己的房产,要么有足够的首付;正因为如此,哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)教授魏尚进2012年所做的调查显示,2003-2009年间,在中国35个主要城市中,房价上涨的部分中高达48%(价值约合8万亿美元)都与国内男女比例失衡有关。

    然而,随着中国放宽计划生育政策,房屋需求量最终有可能下降。

    魏尚进列举了两个原因:虽然中国要在10-15年之后才能看到重大的变化,但是给更多的家庭生二胎的机会将有助于平衡男女比例。如果适婚女性数量增多,那么中国婚恋市场异常激烈的竞争将有望得到缓和。

    此外,生育率的提升将迫使公民减少储蓄。因为中国政府在医疗覆盖、教育和其他社会保障网络领域的投资甚少,大多数中国人更愿意攒钱,不愿意花钱。他们往往会通过购买房地产的方式来存钱,但是孩子越多,需要花销的地方也就越多。除此之外,这样的夫妇也将享有更多的保障,因为孩子有望会给他们养老(没错,的确如此——在中国,看望父母已被写入法律)。

    我们仍不清楚政策放宽后中国家庭会有什么样的反应。毕竟,房价和教育开销的上涨让城镇家庭宁愿只要一个孩子。

    目前,中国每年的新生婴儿数量约为1500万,据估计,计划生育政策的变化每年将为中国新添1-2百万的人口。魏尚进表示,随着世界第二大经济体国民收入的不断增加,想多生孩子的夫妇可能会越来越多。

    所有这些因素可能将在未来几年内让房价更平易近人;当然,前提是中国家庭愿意生更多的孩子。(财富中文网)

    译者:翔

    Even those who know little about China have heard of its policy limiting most couples to one child. The 1980 law in the world's most populous country was originally intended to tame fears that a surging population would suck up resources and hurt growth. Birthrates plunged to 1.64 children per woman in 2011 from 4.77 in the 1970s, but the policy has led to countless troublesome consequences over the years, including forced sterilizations and abortions and a shortage of women in a country that overwhelmingly prefers boys over girls.

    Last week, leaders pledged to relax the one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children if one parent is an only child. Currently, couples are restricted to one child unless both parents are only children and rural families are allowed to do so if their first child is a girl. The policy change comes as China seeks to address a looming shortage of workers in the face of a rapidly aging population. Such demographic changes could also ripple across an unexpected part of China's economy -- its booming housing market.

    Property prices have spiked dramatically, making it unaffordable for many Chinese to buy. And studies have found that the rapid rise of China's home prices is linked to its widening gender imbalance. Because there are many more men than women (a ratio of 1.15 men of marriage age of 15 to 30 years old for every woman), China's dating scene has become ultra-competitive.

    While nothing says "Will you marry me?" quite like a shiny diamond in the U.S., an engagement in China typically comes with a home. To be considered marriage material, men are expected to either own property or have enough for a down payment; as a result, between 2003 and 2009, as much as 48% (or $8 trillion worth) of the rise in property values across China's 35 major cities is linked to the nation's gender imbalance, according to a 2012 study by Columbia University professor Shang-Jin Wei.

    With China easing its one-child policy, however, demand for housing could eventually fall.

    Wei cites two reasons: It could take another 10 to 15 years before China sees any fundamental changes, but giving more couples a chance to have two children would help balance the male-to-female ratio. And if more men can find wives, it would help ease China's super competitive marriage market.

    Also, raising the birthrate would compel citizens to save less. Because China's government invests so little on medical coverage, education, and other social safety nets, most Chinese save overwhelmingly more than they spend. They often store their money by buying up real estate, but with more children, couples would need to spend more. More than that, such couples would enjoy a wider safety net in a country where children are expected to take care of their elderly parents (Yup, that's right -- in China, visiting mom and dad is the law).

    It's unclear how Chinese families would respond to a relaxed policy. After all, rising housing and education costs have made couples in urban areas prefer having only one child.

    It has been estimated the policy change could add 1 to 2 million more births every year, in addition to the approximately 15 million births a year today. Wei says as incomes rise in the world's second largest economy, it's likely that more couples will have more children.

    All this could make homes more affordable over the next several years; that is, of course, if the Chinese choose to have more babies.

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