Recovering from one child: China's growing fertility problem

Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT) May 7, 2018

Story highlights

  • China's total fertility rate is below what is needed to keep the population steady
  • A decision to allow married couples to have two children is behind a surge in demand for fertility treatment

Beijing (CNN)Xi Xiaoxin, 35, never thought that she would have trouble conceiving three years ago.

Back then, all she wanted was to enjoy traveling the world with her husband, whom she married in 2012. But when she came around to the idea of starting a family three years later, the road to conception turned out to be rough.
"Not until recent years did I realize that it could be so difficult getting a baby," she said.
Xi is one of hundreds of thousands of largely urban Chinese women struggling with infertility.
Like elsewhere in the world, delaying motherhood has become more common in China, with high costs of living, long working hours, unfriendly maternity policies and high child care costs. Some specialists also suggest that environmental factors such as pollution could also be a factor, particularly for male infertility.
Xi Xiaoxin, 35, never thought she would have trouble conceiving but has just started her first round of IVF.
But it's not just a personal struggle; it's a national one.
China's total fertility rate, at an estimated 1.6 children per woman in 2017, is similar to Canada's but below those of the United States and UK. This rate is below the 2.1 rate needed to keep the population steady, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Chinese authorities want to boost the birth rate, but its population pyramid is upside down: There's a shrinking number of workers to support an aging population.