When Lin Xu, an office worker, crams himself into a tight suffocating bus every morning, sometimes with his face pressed against a window, he can't see what could possibly be wrong with China's one-child policy.
The family-planning policy was introduced in the 1970s to encourage late marriages and late childbearing. It limited most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children. It is estimated that without the policy, the country's population would have ballooned by 400 million more than the current 1.3 billion, according to the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
But there is a price to pay. Recently, the aging workforce and its social problems have forced Shanghai into allowing eligible couples to have two children, a move that has triggered widespread speculation of a policy shift.
China's family-planning authority refused to make comments on the prospect of a policy shift, but some scholars are advocating change.
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But Lin Xu doesn't care. Lin, a single-child at 25, interpreted the shrinking workforce as "less competition, hence more job opportunities and higher income."
"Chinese are used to dividing everything by 1.3 billion, and feel the pinch of everything 'per capita'," said [Professor of Social Sciences] Wang Guangzhou.
It has been eight years since her only daughter died, but Ke Bin still cannot talk about her "beautiful girl" in the past tense. "It is her 28th birthday this year," said the heartbroken mother as she stared into the midday sky above Shanghai.
Ke is 57 and one of a growing number of Chinese parents who have become unfortunate victims of the side effects of the country's one-child rule. She said she not only lost a daughter, but also her future.
Outliving a child is an unbearable prospect for parents over the age of 45 like Ke, the first generation subject to a family planning policy written three decades ago, as they must contemplate a life without the one person they would have traditionally relied on for emotional and financial support.