A lot has been read into the Chinese stamp to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It shows five pigs (this is the ‘Year of the Pig’) a mammy, daddy and three little ones. The general opinion was that it is a signal from the Chinese Government, which established a ‘One Child’ policy in 1979 and extended it to two in 2016, that it is now encouraging three children per family.
It seems there were only 17.58 million births in China in 2017, 12% below official forecasts. It led to a fear that in the not-too-distant future there will be too many old people and not enough young to provide for them.
In many families both parents have to hold on to jobs and prefer to put all their resources into the education and raising of one child rather than facing the financial burden of two or more.
Pig are still a symbol of prosperity in Asia so connecting pigs (prosperity) with the number of children is not farfetched. In the West we have a story of Three Little Pigs. Two were easy-going and lazily built houses of straw and sticks while the third put extra effort into building a sturdy house of brick which the hungry wolf could not knock down. So, going that bit further and having a third child is like building up a durable family that is more likely to survive future challenges.
In the meantime, a lot of huffing and puffing is going on between the government and cautious parents, both trying to keep the wolf from the door.