To understand the reasons for the decline in the birth rate of our country, the effects of the decline in the birth rate and the countermeasures needed to reduce the birth rate, as well as the urgency of the reform of education, especially art education.
Using a mathematical statistical analysis method, the decline of the birth rate in our country was statistically analysed, and the influence of education, especially art education, was discussed.
The results show that the birth rate of China's population decreased significantly, that is, from 36% in 1949 to 23.3% in 1987 and from 12.95% in 2016 to 10.8% at present. This has a significant impact on the manpower of all walks of life. Students at all levels and all kinds of schools have brought about a greater impact. Higher education, especially art education, has a greater impact.
In the face of the decline in the birth rate, corresponding countermeasures must be taken to strengthen the development of maternal and child health care and medical resources. In-depth reform or correction of the current compulsory education must be assessed in order to relieve the worries of women who have given birth so that the birth rate increases within the framework of a reasonable, normal span of time and demonstrates smooth development. In order to ensure that China has sufficient human resources and enough students at all levels and all kinds of schools, the reform of art education is deepened, thus facilitating training of the talents of world-class masters.
- birth rate
- mathematical analysis
- art education
As a result of the achievement of a comprehensive victory in China's battle against poverty, according to the current standards, 98.99 million rural poor people have all been lifted out of poverty, 832 poverty-stricken counties have all ‘taken their hats’, 128,000 poverty-stricken villages have all been out of the list, regional overall poverty has been solved, the difficult task of eliminating absolute poverty has been completed and another human miracle has been created through the annals of history! This is the great glory of the Chinese people, Communist Party of China and the Chinese nation! All the poor people in rural areas have been lifted out of poverty, making a key contribution to the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round manner. The income level of the poor people has increased significantly, and the statement that ‘two don’t worry about three guarantees’ has been realised. The people who are out of poverty don’t worry about food and clothing. The safeties of compulsory education, basic medical care, housing and drinking water have been guaranteed. More than 20 million poor patients have received classified treatment, and, as a result, the families which once suffered by disease have now stood up, proving classified treatment to be the backbone of their healthy lives. Nearly 20 million poor people enjoy subsistence allowances and special poverty relief, and >24 million people with disabilities and severe disabilities receive living and nursing subsidies. More than 1.1 million poor people have become forest rangers to protect green waters and green mountains in exchange for gold and silver. Whether it's snowy plateau, Gobi Desert, cliff or Big Rock Mountain, the sunshine of poverty alleviation shines to every corner, so the fate of countless people changes, their dreams come true and they find happiness! The economic and social development of poverty relief areas has made great strides, and the overall outlook has undergone historic changes. The pace of development in poverty-stricken areas has been significantly accelerated, the economic strength has been continuously enhanced, the infrastructure construction has made rapid progress, the social undertakings have made great progress and the problems such as the difficulty in travel, water, electricity, communication, school and medical treatment have been solved with historic efficacy. At the stage of compulsory education, the number of dropout students from poor families has been shown to have decreased dynamically. All towns and villages that have the necessary conditions have access to hardened roads, buses and postal roads. A total of 1.1 million kilometres of rural roads and 35,000 km of new railways have been rebuilt. The power supply reliability rate of rural power grids in poverty-stricken areas has reached 99%, the proportion of power supply in poverty-stricken villages covered by large power grids has reached 100% and the proportion of optical fibre and 4G in poverty-stricken villages has exceeded 98%. The dilapidated houses of 7.9 million households and 25.68 million poor people have been transformed. A total of 35,000 centralised resettlement areas and 2.66 million sets of resettlement houses have been built. More than 9.6 million people have ‘moved out of poverty’ and settled into new homes. Many villagers bid farewell to the cable-stayed bridge and natural moat and have turned these into thoroughfares. They bid farewell to bitter and salty water and now drink clean water. They bid farewell to the mud hut with air leakage on all sides and now live in spacious and bright brick houses. Millions of children from poor families now receive fair educational opportunities. These children now live in schools and eat in canteens instead of having to travel to school every day. All the 28 ethnic groups, which comprised a small population, have been lifted out of poverty. Some of the ethnic groups that entered the socialist society after the founding of new China have achieved the second historic leap from poverty and backwardness, transitioning to a well-off society in an all-round way. All the last bastions in the deep poverty areas were conquered. Poverty relief areas in the countryside have great changes and exhibit beautiful scenery of the times! 
The coordinated and harmonious development of society is inseparable from education, people's happiness, satisfaction and so on, as suggested by Xu Beihong, Qi Baishi and other masters who discovered the beauty of painting and promotion. The training of master talents like factories requires constant supply of raw materials in order to have a good product output. However, the decline in the birth rate will inevitably affect the output rate of the school plant. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen the reform of education, especially compulsory education and art education.
China's total population will be 1.405 billion in 2020. The birth rate was 36% in 1949, 23.33% in 1987 and 14.03% in 2000. In November 2011, China decided to implement the two-child policy; in December 2013, China had implemented the two-child policy; in October 2015, the ‘two-child policy’ had been instituted firmly in place causing China's birth rate to demonstrate a small rise, reaching 12.95‰ in 2016, the highest in recent years. However, since then, the national birth rate has not increased but decreased, that is, from 12.95‰ in 2016 to 10.48‰ in 2019, which is a decrease of 2.47‰, the lowest since 2000. Among the 31 provinces (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), except for Guangdong, Sichuan, Guizhou, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Zhejiang, the birth rates of other provinces have decreased to varying degrees. If taking the national average birth rate of 10.48‰ in 2019 as the standard, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Tianjin, Shanghai, Beijing, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Hunan and Chongqing Provinces do not cross the average birth rate level. Among them, the birth rate in Northeast China is the lowest and that in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang is 6.45‰, 6.05‰ and 5.73‰, respectively. Second, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin showed relatively large declines in the birth rate: 8.12‰, 7.00‰ and 6.73‰, jrespectively. Since 1949, China's population and birth rate have fluctuated several times, see Figures 1–2.
The decline of birth rate has many consequences, such as the acceleration of population aging, the serious gender imbalance of birth population and China's tendency of aging before getting rich. It is the basic factor and power of economic and social development. Due to the long-term implementation of the family planning policy, China's population crisis is approaching, and the economic and social problems are increasingly serious. In recent years, there has been a sharp decrease in the number of births and the willingness to have children. The number of women of childbearing age has peaked and declined, and the aging population has accelerated. The decline rate of China's fertility rate is unprecedented in the world. At present, it is not only far below the global average of 2.45 but also lower than the level of developed countries of 1.67. According to the United Nations statistics, from 1950 to 2015, the total fertility rate of the United States dropped from 3.3 to 1.9, of Japan dropped from 3 to 1.4 and of India dropped from 5.9 to 2.4, which are far less than the decline of China's total fertility rate from 6 to 1.6. In 2016, China's total fertility rate was 1.62, ranking the bottom in the world, far below the global average of 2.45 (2.45) and the level of 1.67 in high-income economies. Compared with Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia and other countries with similar per capita GDP, China's total fertility rate is still low.
China will gradually become one of the countries with the heaviest burden of providing for an elderly population in the world, which will seriously drag down the national finance and restrict the economic vitality .
It is worth pondering why there is a decline in the birth rate. There are many reasons, such as cognitive problems, economic problems, social problems, educational problems and so on. In a word, the pressure is great, so the three cruxes of the decline in the fertility rate are that they don’t want to give birth, dare not give birth and can’t give birth. The reason for the ‘three-barren’ phenomenon is that, with the development of the times, some people have different understandings from the traditional concept, and the old concept of raising children for old age has gradually faded, resulting in some ideas of celibacy and singleness. The other parts of the people are out of economic considerations. Raising one child is enough for them. If they have more children, they can’t afford it. The high direct costs of housing, education and medical care are the ‘three big mountains’ that inhibit fertility behaviour. The ‘four-two-one’ family structure of couples with only one child has resulted in a heavy burden of providing for the aged population and pressurising fertility. Women's labour participation rate is high, but their employment rights and interests are not guaranteed enough, which leads to high opportunity cost. Young people ‘do not want to give birth and dare not give birth’. In recent years, there is some online literature describing this phenomenon. Although it is somewhat exaggerated, it also reflects some problems. ‘If I can’t afford to be born, it is because the cost will be more than 10,000; if I can afford to be born, I can’t afford to be raised; if I can afford to be raised, I can’t afford to learn; if I can afford to learn, I can’t afford to marry; if I can afford to marry, I can’t afford to give birth, because the cost will be more than 10,000; if I get sick, I can’t afford to die.’
Under the condition of a certain level of family income, it is impossible for parents to raise more children with more money. In the United States, education accounts for about 10% of household expenditure. The mainstream view in academic circles is basically recognised that, at a certain stage of development or within a certain range of per capita income-level changes, the improvement of the economic development level increases the relative cost of raising children, women's education level and social status, which leads to the decline in fertility rate. This is because families with better educated parents pay more attention to the education and training of their children, and the rising cost of all aspects urges couples to consciously reduce the number of children.
Western economics divides the cost of raising children into two types. One is direct cost, that is, all the expenses that families spend on their children from pregnancy to birth and then for their economic independence, such as food and clothing expenses, education expenses, medical expenses etc. The other is indirect cost, which refers to all kinds of losses suffered by parents in the process of raising a child, such as the reduction of income, opportunities for job promotion etc. To be specific, China is limited by various objective conditions, and resources are scarce, which leads to the huge cost of childbearing for Chinese families and the greater economic pressure that Chinese families generally bear. Moreover, the payment period of childbearing cost is very long, which means that Chinese families will lose current benefits to a huge extent. At the same time, childbearing behaviour is different from general economic behaviour in that it has the irreversibility of investment, which will inevitably affect the childbearing willingness and behaviour of women of childbearing age [6, 7, 8].
On the one hand, families pay more attention to the education and cultivation of their children, and the rising costs of all aspects urge couples to consciously reduce the number of children; on the other hand, with the economic and social development, the characteristic function of traditional families based on production further degenerates and disappears, gradually giving way to the social mass production link, and the degree of marketisation of family consumption structure improves, which promotes the family upbringing. The number preference associated with child-bearing collapses, giving rise to the quality preference.
Personal values include the subjective manifestation of fertility behaviour, and personal fertility values play a guiding role in population fertility. The old ideas in Chinese traditional culture, such as ‘son preference’, ‘many sons and many blessings’ and ‘three unfilial children, no offspring for the future’, have become the important reasons for the high birth rate in China from 1949 to 1970. Then, the birth rate decreased year by year. We need to know that, as a whole for the Chinese people, our previous fertility level was very high. We are the world's most populous country, and the core reason is that we are in the whole Chinese market. Everyone's attitude towards having children is totally different. As early as before the reform and opening up, we have been in a state of incomplete industrialisation. At this time, everyone's attitude towards children was different. One child is more labour force, and more labour force can bring more income to the family. Therefore, in such a situation, everyone is willing to have a baby. This is actually because having a baby will not cost too much, ‘just a pair of chopsticks’, but it can actually bring about the overall improvement of family income. We can see that, whether in the period of agricultural civilisation or in the early stage of industrial civilisation, the fertility rate and fertility level of Chinese people were high, which was actually consistent with the productivity at that time and most people's cognition of children at home. What we need to understand is that the reform and opening up drive the rapid development of China's economy and also drive the transformation of China into a country with industrial civilisation as the core. Especially recently, we have entered a civilised era of Internet digitisation. Under such circumstances, we are more and more aware of the importance of education for the whole market and so we wish to ensure that children obtain a good education. Thus, in 21st-century China, it is not only necessary to let the children have enough to eat but also to provide them an excellent education. This is the change of people's understanding in the whole society. In fact, we have seen that, over the years, the education level of the Chinese people has been improving, and women's sense of autonomy has also been increasing. In the process of enhancing women's sense of autonomy, many girls increasingly feel that their lives should not be bound by children, so having a child or not has become a choice for many women, which is actually related to education. Peace is closely related to self-awareness [9, 10].
The reason for the decline in birth rate is because women of childbearing age have had a high level of education, tend to postpone their first marriage and tend to have children at a later age, and it is easier to overcome the influence of feudal ideas such as ‘inheriting one's family’ and master scientific methods of birth control; they tend to have higher family status and social status, have more autonomy in childbearing decisions and tend to have fewer children in their life. They also hope to have fewer children so that they can make them study more in their spare time and improve and guide them to achieve good results. People with different education levels have different fertility concepts. According to the data of the sixth census, the average number of children born decreases with the increase in education level. The average number of children born to women of childbearing age in Shanghai is 0.8, among which the average number of children born to women of childbearing age with a postgraduate degree is 0.36, followed by 0.37 with a bachelor degree and 1.8 without schooling. In brief, fertility is a common problem of economy, society and culture in a sense.
On the other hand, because there are still some problems in implementation of the Chinese Compulsory Education system (primary and junior high school education), some primary and secondary school principals, in order to make money, regardless of the national compulsory education policy, fail to take a serious view of compulsory education, or even completely violate the laws and regulations of compulsory education, and completely move junior high school out of the school headquarters (the school headquarters does not run junior high school) to a place far away from the school, the original school surrounded by students who should go to junior high school but can’t go to school because it is not nearby. Parents and students have many complaints. This seriously affects the compulsory education of students.
People think that education and medical treatment are the biggest problems nowadays. Among them, it is more difficult for children to seek medical treatment than adults. Statistics show that there is a shortage of 200,000 paediatricians in China. There is a huge demand for paediatricians to cater to children, in China's medical market. The number of paediatricians in China has not increased in the past 3 years but has decreased. There are only five paediatricians per 10,000 children. For example, Shapingba District of Chongqing has a permanent resident population of 1.128 million, and there are about 150,000 children. There is only one maternal and child health care hospital that employs paediatrics, and there are less than 20 doctors. From 2012 to 2018, the asset–liability ratio of children's hospitals in China is increasing year by year (Figure 3) , which reflects that there may be some problems in the current children's hospitals.
First, the nature of compulsory education is to implement the free system of Bai, that is, not only free tuition but also free books, and even to provide certain living subsidies. The second is to receive compulsory education, which is not only the obligation of citizens but also the right they should enjoy. The absence of school-aged children from schools should be regarded as a violation of their rights. Third, the main body of the implementation of compulsory education is the government. For the countries that implement compulsory education system in the world, these points are not only mutually agreed upon but also practiced. China should be no exception, in our opinion. To solve the problem of education equity, which involves a wide range of public policy issues, we should get rid of the disadvantages of ‘treating the head with headache and treating the foot with pain’. There is a need to review and revise the education policy that has been implemented for a long time. Therefore, the education laws and regulations, including the compulsory education law, should answer the above questions fundamentally. In our opinion, the compulsory education law should answer, or mention, the fundamental and directional issues of legal norms, at least in the following aspects. First, the connotation of compulsory education should be clarified. First, the nature of compulsory education is to implement a completely free system, that is, not only free tuition and miscellaneous fees but also free book fees, and even to provide certain living subsidies. The second is to receive compulsory education, which is not only the obligation of citizens but also the right they should enjoy. The absence of school-age children from school should be regarded as a violation of their rights. Third, the main body of the implementation of compulsory education is the government. For the countries that implement compulsory education system in the world, these points are not only consensus, but also practice. I think we should be no exception. Second, we should make clear the standards of government investment in compulsory education. Some representatives pointed out that ‘without increasing investment, even if the compulsory education law is amended, it will not play a big role.’ Increasing funding for compulsory education has always been the focus of appeals made by the representatives of the national ‘two sessions’ over the years. Although the education law stipulates the financial education funds, the responsibilities of governments at all levels are not clear and difficult to operate. Statistics show that only 8% of the investment in rural education is spent by the central government, and the other 92% is spent by local governments at all levels, most of which is spent by the governments below the county level. This ratio is obviously unreasonable and unrealistic . This is a clear provision at the legal level or a formal solution to the problem of tuition fees, which does not mean that compulsory education has been implemented in place or that there is no problem. But in fact, there are many practical problems that must be reformed or corrected, especially by the leaders of local educational institutions at all levels and primary and secondary schools, in which the provisions of law mandating Compulsory Education have not been seriously implemented. For example, in order to generate income and change money, many junior high schools now move out of the school headquarters and go to a place far away from the school headquarters. The school headquarters only runs high schools, which is not conducive for junior high school students to go to school. Therefore, parents have to buy rental houses for junior high school students in places far away from home. This problem is very serious in the author's school area; parents and junior high school students can be said to be full of complaints, do not dare to speak out and are afraid to offend the school leaders and education department leaders. We think that these phenomena must be reformed and corrected. Otherwise, people cannot understand compulsory education. Not to mention having two or three children, it's a headache for one child to go to school. Therefore, many parents say they don’t want to have another child. In order to make the birth rate develop smoothly, we must reform and rectify the problems in junior high school education. There are many aspects of education reform in primary and secondary schools. This is just the tip of the iceberg, mentioned here as an example. For example, the problem of primary education reform is also imminent. The current primary education can be summarised as follows: school teachers are chief engineers, parents are project engineers and students are technicians and workers. Teachers assign homework, parents supervise and direct and students operate by hand, which is a national model. In addition, there are some classes like this and that, so the burden of students and parents is heavy, so some mothers have to resign and become full-time nannies at home. The reform of primary and secondary schools is the focus of education reform. Only after the reform of primary and secondary education can the birth rate develop smoothly and normally.
In order to improve women's fertility desire, it is urgent to effectively promote the development of maternal and child health care, so as to solve the problems faced by the residents due to childbirth, such as the difficulty of prenatal examination, availability of delivery beds, infant health care and medical treatment, postpartum treatment and so on. At present, the resources of maternal and child health care are limited, and it is difficult to meet the medical needs of pregnant women and infants. It is urgently necessary to increase the number of obstetricians and paediatricians and expand and add some maternal and child healthcare hospitals and children's hospitals, so as to solve the contradiction between supply and demand of maternal and child health care and medical treatment. This is an important link related to the stable and normal development of fertility will and birth rate.
It is proposed to increase childcare services according to people's childcare needs. These new childcare institutions should meet several requirements. First, the number of full-time childcare institutions should exceed 40%, and the number of half-day childcare institutions should be close to 30%. Second, in terms of the content of nurseries, nearly 90% of the institutions should give both education and care. Third, in terms of institutional nature, the number of public institutions should exceed 50%. Fourth, in terms of childcare services, nearly 60% of them are in early education institutions or schools and about 30% are in communities. To solve the problems of people burdened with worries, we insist on the need for measures that promote the normal development of the birth rate.
After the founding of the Republic of China, especially since the 1990s, the birth rate of our country has been declining. From the development experience of other countries, a range of social problems will be highlighted in any country with a decline in the birth rate. For the education community, the number of people receiving education will inevitably decrease, and there will be a shortage of domestic students. This has been confirmed by the experience of Japan and our Taiwan region. For example, Japan's birth rate has been declining since the 1970s. The decline in the number of children and adolescents has led to a series of problems, such as a decline in the number of students, a large number of school closures and mergers, a decrease in the student-teacher ratio and a change in the hierarchy of education. People engaged in education should be aware that, in the past few years, most colleges and universities (especially higher vocational colleges and private colleges) have taken a road of quantity expansion. The increase in the number of students not only expands the scale of the school but also brings a lot of (tuition) income for the school. The basis of quantity expansion development is sufficient students. In the future, the number of students will increase. For a few years, the number of students in higher education will no longer be sufficient. Once the scale of the university cannot be increased, the stagnation of income growth and the rigid increase of expenditure will worsen the income and expenditure situation of the university. In general colleges and universities, we cannot rule out the possibility that some schools will close down due to the shortage of students. Table 1 shows changes in the number of population in China [5, 6, 12].
Changes of population aged 18 years in China from 1996 to 2025.
At a time when the birth rate of our country is relatively high, art education has begun to have many problems, such as senior talent training. These problems include scarcity in the number of cloth points (octoral points), a small enrolment scale, single training mode and so on. This leads to a vicious circle of wide-ranging thinness. A decline in the birth rate will lead to a reduction in art enrolment; a decrease in the number of art talent training will lead to a contraction in the output rate of master talent; a decrease in the output rate will make it less likely that China would produce world-class masters such as Xu Beihong and Qi Baishi in the future. This is the impact of the decline in the birth rate on art colleges. The current art education system and the model of training master-level talents do not adapt the urgent need to deepen the reform of all aspects of art education. For example, the setting of art doctoral points needs to rationalise the layout, and the training mode of some disciplines can be taken into consideration, but also, like the current admission methods used in some disciplines of Tsinghua University in China, rare talents are selected directly from the middle school into the university by individual effective experts for training.
The decline in the birth rate of our country has led to a decline in the age-appropriate population of higher education. The number of sources, the efficiency of running schools, the structure of education, the construction of teams and the quality of education have also made an impact. To reduce these impacts, higher education must be proactive, and in-depth educational reform, especially in the arts, is particularly important. Leaders and principals of educational institutions at all levels must have a high sense of responsibility, conscientiously implement the connotation of compulsory education in our country and truly make compulsory education come into practice. Higher art education should maintain a moderate scale of running schools, reform admission methods and have strict admission standards. Now due to the decline in student resources to further stimulate colleges and universities to continue to increase the admission rate to recruit enough students, which makes the quality of students decline, some students now get diplomas, but misnomer. At the same time, we should expand the function of higher education, adjust the development ideas of colleges and universities and reform the master-level talent training mode.
Changes of population aged 18 years in China from 1996 to 2025.