Los bebés consumistas de China

BEIJING – Los gobernantes chinos acaban de adoptar la flexibilización de la “política del hijo único” del país, que se ha estado aplicado durante décadas. Ahora se permitirá a las parejas tener dos hijos si uno de los padres es hijo único (anteriormente, ambos padres debían serlo), con lo que la nueva norma podría cubrir a gran parte de los nacidos después de los años 80 en áreas urbanas. Pero si bien son evidentes las potenciales consecuencias sociales, existe menos claridad sobre sus efectos económicos.

Cuando se comenzó a aplicar la política del hijo único en 1979 (como una forma de aminorar las presiones sociales, económicas y ambientales tras el auge demográfico de los años 50 y 60), la tasa de fertilidad se redujo notablemente, desde tres hijos por hogar en 1970 a 1,2 en 1982. En consecuencia, la tasa de ahorros por hogar se elevó de un 10,4% en 1983 a un impresionante 30,5% en 2011. ¿Es posible que la política del hijo único haya impulsado este aumento? De ser así, ¿haría su modificación que esta tendencia se revierta, causando a su vez un auge del consumo en la próxima década?

El aumento de los índices de fertilidad puede reducir las tasas de ahorro de los hogares, de dos maneras importantes. La primera es que para criar niños es necesario un mayor gasto, especialmente en educación, que para los hijos únicos entre 15 y 22 años de edad representa de un 15 a un 25% del total de los gastos de los hogares chinos (ver figura 1). En segundo lugar, puesto que cuentan con más hijos para mantenerles cuando lleguen a la vejez, los padres sienten menos presión para ahorrar para su jubilación.

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