Friday, 2 May 2008

Economic boom and girls marrying later

Economic boom until 2020 at least

THE cycle of economic boom in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, would last until at least 2020, said an expert with the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic planner.

The cycle, which started in 1978 when the reform and opening-up drive was launched, saw the country's economy grow 9.88 percent annually during the past 30 years, said Chen Dongqi, vice president of the commission's Academy of Macroeconomic Research.

read more here...

Why is it so damn hard to get girls to marry?

What does concern me is why it's so hard to get women to walk down the aisle these days in China.

Part of the reasons is gender imbalance. Some experts warn that an estimate of up to 30 million men won't be able to find wives by 2020.

But I think a major reason is that women are not in a hurry to marry. They want freedom.

For centuries, Chinese women have been good housewives, devoted to their husbands who make most of the decisions.

However, when the single-child generation enters their marriageable years, they break the rules.

Unlike their mothers, today's young urban women's stories are fueled by independence, self-confidence and professional advancement.

These ladies believe in this motto: "Don't learn how to cook or clean, or it'll be your job for the rest of your life."

The most open-minded of them hop from bed to bed before they finally marry someone. The getting-married ball is rolling on the men's court in most cases today.

Here are some quotes from men of the single-child generation:

Women nowadays are pretty picky. You have to show them your bankbook to get them to smile.

I'm tired of dating, but she said getting married might sink her career.

When it comes to marriage, women leave in a hurry, leaving men high and dry.

They want houses, they want cars and I'm not sure if they want men.

Women seem to be brainwashed by "Sex and the City!" They think they can become the women in that drama, single and fabulous.

Here're some quotes from women of the single-child generation:

It's not that I don't want to get married, I'm just not sure if he's the one. What if someone better comes along?

The marriage equation is pretty simple: 1+1 >2. If getting married cannot guarantee a better life, then why bother?

read more here...

Birth rate and paying people to have babies

I don't often talk about controversial topics and then when I do I take down my posts, concerned I'm offending people or that I'm somehow contributing to blogger being blocked in China.. meh...

Well my mother was in town for a few days and on Wednesday night we took her to our favorite massage place. As usual we got chatting to our masseurs, masseuses? massage people and the topic of babies came up again. I've had the exact same conversation with them before.. about.. how funny it is that in China you have to pay a fine to have more than one child, and in Australia, the government is paying people to have babies.

Well now it seems that both these rules are being revised.

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China has about 1.3 billion people, 20% of the world's total.

The phrase 'one-child policy' is commonly used in English to refer to the population control policy (or Planned Birth policy) of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

China imposed the one-child policy in 1979 to curb population growth that had rocketed out of control since Mao Zedong's instruction to the nation in the 1960s to bury the United States in a human wave.

After Mao's death a network of rules was imposed on families – more complex than the simple instruction not to have more than one baby – although parents who comply with this rule still receive a certificate and a lump sum on retirement.

The one-child policy promotes couples having one child in rural and urban areas. It should really be called the "one birth policy" because parents are allowed to keep twins, triplets, etc. Two babies were permitted in many areas in the countryside, or if the first child was a female, since Chinese tradition strongly favours sons.

Fines were imposed for rule-breakers, and state officials who have more than one child automatically lose their jobs.

The one child policy does not apply equally to all families. The wealthy elite, party bureaucrats and emerging urban middle class have no difficulty in paying what for them are relatively small fines to have extra children. For the urban and rural poor, a second pregnancy carries the prospect of financially crippling penalties.

The average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime has decreased to 1.8 in China today, from 5.8 in the 1970s, and below the replacement rate of 2.1.

The preference for a boy rather than a girl, especially in rural areas, has also led to a serious gender imbalance in China. According to official statistics, 119 boys are born for 100 girls. By 2020, it is estimated that about 40 million Chinese males may have to live as bachelors.

The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the issues it raises; because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented; and because of concerns about negative economic and social consequences. However, there are still many citizens that continue to have more than one child, despite this policy.

China’s fertility rate is now extremely low, and the population is rapidly aging, especially in urban areas. Experts have warned that China is steadily moving toward a demographic crisis with too many old people in need of expensive services and too few young workers paying taxes to meet those bills. China is often regarded as having a limitless pool of young, cheap labor, but the country’s biggest manufacturing centers are already facing labor shortages.

In February 2008 Chinese Government official Wu Jianmin said that the one-child policy would be reconsidered during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March 2008, but at that time a representative of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the policy would remain in place for at least another decade.

So that's China. Australia on the other hand...

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The Baby Bonus is a scheme by the Federal Government of Australia aimed at offsetting the expenses associated with rearing a child. The scheme was also introduced as a means of increasing Australia's fertility rate and to mitigate the effects of Australia's ageing population.

In 2004, Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australian couples to have ‘one (baby) for your husband and one for your wife and one for the country’. To encourage this, the Budget that year put in place the ‘Baby Bonus’, a lump sum payment to the parents on the birth of each child. It has risen from $3,000 on commencement on 1 July 2004 to its current level of $4,000 and is set to rise to $5,000 on 1 July 2008. With 259,800 registered births in Australia in 2005, that amounted to eligible payments of around $780 million.

You may get Baby Bonus if:

* you have a newborn child or have care of a newborn child within 13 weeks of the child's birth and are likely to continue to have care for no less than 13 weeks, or
* a child has been entrusted to your care for adoption before two years of age and in the case of international adoptions, has entered Australia before two years of age, or
* you have a stillborn child or a child who dies shortly after being born, and
* you were eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A (excluding the income test) within 13 weeks of the child's birth or of the child being entrusted to your care, and
* where you are the natural parent, you have notified the Family Assistance Office within 26 weeks of the birth that you have registered, the newborn with the state/territory registry of births. (This requirement does not apply to children born overseas, stillbirths or neo-natal deaths.)
* From 20 March 2008 the payment is $4258.00
* This payment is not subject to an income test.
* This payment is not subject to an assets test.
* Note: For multiple births, Baby Bonus is paid for each child. For example, twins attract two payments of Baby Bonus ($8516).

International empirical evidence suggests that public policies generally do boost fertility, although part of the measured effect may be a timing effect where mothers bring forward childbirth in their lifecycle rather than increasing the number of births over their lifetimes (their so-called completed fertility).

For Australia, the birth rate has edged has edged up to 1.81 in 2005 from 1.75 in 2003 before the revised Baby Bonus was introduced. However we can’t read much into this because the birth rate does jump around a bit—it was 1.82 in 1995 and dropped to 1.73 in 2001. There is some evidence of an announcement effect of the Baby Bonus in Australia—Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh estimate that over 1,000 births were delayed, by rescheduling of inducement and cesarean procedures, to ensure that the birth occurred after 1 July 2004 in order that the parents were entitled to the Baby Bonus. Although this is evidence that parents respond to incentives in making family planning decisions, it is not evidence that completed fertility rates will respond to the Baby Bonus.

Some say that with more women having their first babies in their 30s, and richer women having more children, the baby bonus is increasingly ending up in the hands of wealthier families, the scheme could be means-tested in the future.

Contrary to this, Shadow treasurer Malcolm Turnbull estimated about 300,000 babies would be born in Australia this year and only a "tiny percentage" would come from wealthy families.

Economist Professor Gregory said the baby bonus remained an inefficient means of improving fertility and the Government should consider treating all family welfare measures as "a whole".

Economist Peter Saunders, from the Centre for Independent Studies, said the Rudd Government must clearly identify what it wanted family welfare programs to achieve after a decade of ad hoc and often contradictory policy.

"It's a mishmash. Is it supposed to deliver stronger families, female workplace participation, equity between families with children and those without? The Rudd Government shouldn't mess around and instead (should) have a serious look at family policy," Professor Saunders said.


This is obviously a huge huge issue with no right or wrong answers. Personally, I think both these 'policies' were flawed from inception. People shouldn't be told how many kids they can have, and people shouldn't be paid (bribed?) to have more kids IMHO. It's like they had this great idea but as time goes on it's getting more and more out of hand with ramifications they never thought of and now they are thinking, "What do we do now?"

Monday, 28 April 2008


I think I must be the only female who doesn't change their hairstyle or go to the hairdresser on a regular basis. I'm OK with this since I've never really liked to do anything popular or feel 'peer-pressured' into doing things. I'd much rather spend the time and money buying new clothes, shoes or handbags to wear to change my look.

I don't like fussing with my hair too much because I need as much sleep as I can possibly get. I am not a good sleeper at all and never really get enough and if I get a 'fussy' hairdo it means waking up earlier to make it look all perfect and stuff.

I like that I can just wash, towel dry my hair and away I go. I sometimes don't even brush my hair because when it's just been washed it's pretty much tangle-free, smooth, silky and slippery. It's so ridiculously easy to care for. No blow-drying, styling, curling, straightening, gelling, mousing, hairspraying. Yuck. I can't stand any of that stuff. The only exception is if it's a special event I'll make an effort but if I had to do that on a daily basis I'd go insane! I don't know how others can do it.

Right now my hair is down to my waist and so long I can almost sit on it. I'm sure that people naturally assume that because I haven't had it cut for so long (10 months?) that it must be in really bad condition with heaps of split ends. Nope, it's as healthy as anything. Every hairdresser I've ever been to has commented on this, and random people like shopkeepers comment on how healthy my hair is too. I don't ever get any split ends. I used to when I was around 14 or so.. that was the last time I remember getting them. I don't even know what I did to stop them, but low and behold I just don't get them anymore and I'm quite pleased about that. I think the fact that I don't fuss around with my hair keeps it in great condition.

One of these days I'm going to get a haircut and post a before and after shot but don't expect too much. I've tried having different hairstyles but I never deviate far from what I already have. I've tried the layered thing, going shorter to shoulder-length, dyeing (OK so they were only highlights and only one shade lighter than my natural color so not much difference but I didn't want the hideous regrowth factor and so I didn't have that and liked it).

I don't really care if people think I'm boring. I like my hair. It's totally effortless and looks good (I think).

Carrefour Gubei Half Price Day May 1st

I haven't read anyone else reporting on this yet so so far.. You heard it here first.

On May 1st Carrefour Gubei (not sure about the other Carrefours in Shanghai) will have a half price or 'buy one get one free' off all food (hey don't quote me on this though).

To counteract the "anti-French" thing currently going on, the manager is going to see if people can resist a sale.. when it's been known that people have queued on the paths outside for hours because the eggs were on special... just a few RMB jiao/fen/cents off!!

Well my opinion is that of course no Chinese can resist a sale as great as this. I don't think I'll be going. I want to stay alive and not trampled on by mobs, thanks.

PS I sent hubby a link to that Shanghaiist article and he was too scared to go to Carrefour but tried his luck on the weekend and absolutely nothing happened - haha.

Top 7 posts

Previous stats (March 24)

These are the 7 most popular pages on my blog:

1. World Cities Cost of Living (July 1, 2007)

2. Hello Kitty Cafe, Taipei (March 16, 2008)

3. It's blossom time! (March 26, 2008)

4. Canon Powershot G9 (January 31, 2008)

5. Shanghai Pudong Airport's Terminal 2/3 (February 12, 2008)

6. Carrefour Gubei (March 24, 2008)

7. Massages and Genji Japanese restaurant (March 23, 2008)

Interesting! ;) For anyone interested, I get 40-80 visitors per day with a steady average of around 60 per day.

The poor falling US Dollar

Wow the US dollar has really taken a nosedive against all the other major currencies (except the pound - just).

A year ago: 7.7. Now: 7.0
A year ago: 0.13. Now: 0.14.

A year ago: 1.124. Now: 1.014.
A year ago: 0.89. Now: 0.987.

A year ago: 1.2. Now: 1.07.
A year ago: 0.82. Now: 0.93

A year ago: 0.735. Now: 0.635.
A year ago: 1.36. Now: 1.56.

A year ago: 0.4996. Now: 0.5037.
A year ago: 2. Now: 1.98.

A year ago: 0.155. Now: 0.153.
A year ago: 6.4. Now: 6.57.

A year ago: 0.0648. Now: 0.072.
A year ago: 15.477. Now: 13.944.

Stats from here.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

It reached 27 degrees today!

Wow, Spring is certainly in the air. It reached a whopping 27 degrees C today (that's 81 degrees F for you crazy Americans ;))

What did I do to take advantage of this beautiful sunny, warm weather? I stayed inside feeling sorry for myself coughing up yellow crap and nursing my poor painful dizzy head, drinking homemade garlic and honey tea ... ahhh woe is me.

My Favourite Wife - Tony Parsons

Review here

By Tony Parsons
Publishers: Harper Collins, 384 pages
ISBN: 978-0007247653

Once again, a title and a book cover fooled me. This one had me going, “Ah, a guy writing humorous chick lit. This is going to be a romp in the polygamy park with multiple wives and multiple mothers-in-law.”

But My Favourite Wife is as far from a hilarious romp as it gets. It’s about very serious subject matter in a serious city, and the writing style is dead serious and dead literary.

Which is not to say it isn’t a good read. It’s a great read. Tony Parsons has a way of writing that makes you see Shanghai in all its glory and cruelty – but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

In order to enjoy this book, you have to cast all your expectations based on the book cover out of the window.

My Favourite Wife is an observer type of book. You know, the Paul Theroux kind of road book that tells you about a city and its way of life in beautiful sentences with plenty of metaphors and angst, as seen through the eyes of the observer.

In this case, the city is Shanghai and the extremely involved observer is a stoic British expatriate lawyer named Bill.

Fresh from London where he can’t clock enough billable hours to sustain a new family, he has moved to Shanghai where he is told a whole new world of opportunities will open up.

He will be made partner in a couple of years and, meanwhile, he will be put up in the most luxurious of apartments, given a chauffeur and all the perks of an expat’s hardship life in a Third World country.

When the book opens, Bill, his wife Becca, and their daughter Holly arrive in contemporary Shanghai with its gleaming buildings and teeming populace.

They are immediately exposed to the beauty and harshness of it all, and like all Westerners, form their own opinions and judgments about things.

Bill observes his neighbours, a group of young women being kept as mistresses by rich married men – some local, some foreigners – in Paradise Mansions, and immediately sums them up as “whores”.

His wife has another opinion. “How can a woman steal another woman’s husband like that?” she ventures pointedly, many times.

Of course, you know that Bill and Becca’s lives will be turned upside down ... and indeed they are. Holly has a sudden asthma attack, and Becca has a “I really can’t take the foreignness of this country at all” type of moment, and demands to go back to London.

Bill’s supposed to stay in Shanghai, earning money, until such time he can go home. But Bill gets lonely and strikes up much more than a friendship with the beautiful JinJin Li. Naturally, Bill is sucked into JinJin’s world and he begins to see the other side of the coin. Such stories rarely have a good outcome....

I’m reading this from an Asian point of view, so Bill and Becca and their various European and Australian expat friends come off as shocked at Asian culture: our lack of egalitarianism, the practical way we view life (to survive, the Chinese women must do everything they can), our seeming lack of emotions (we have emotions, we just don’t feel the need to display them all the time).

I found myself piqued at the way they view us and not shocked at all by the descriptions of life in China.

Yes, we know there are babies still being thrown into trashcans, the farmers have their land ripped away from them, and there are women selling their bodies to earn a living – we Asians have come to accept all of it as part of our lives.

This is a very interesting book because it’s a Westerner’s point of view of contemporary Asian life, and there should be more books written about us, from any view.

My Favourite Wife