A long time ago in rural Thailand a friend of mine was surprised the fact that I did not yet have any children, already being over 25 years old. He was 24, and had three. I countered with the usual western reasoning that having kids is a big decision, one needs to have a good job, be married, etc. He could not understand this though, as no one in his village had a good job. I told him that I did not even know if and when I would have children, and in disbelief he then asked, “but who will carry your water?” This was meant literally, as the well was some distance from his hut, and up a hill.
I’ve never been asked this question in my years in China, but would not be surprised if some farmers out in China’s poorer provinces think the same way. Kids are a good source of chores, which includes water-carrying, and can provide support later in one’s life. Move closer to the Eastern Seaboard and larger cities, though, and I doubt that you will get meet with the same attitude. The fact is that in larger cities like Shanghai, or Nanjing or Ningbo children are now seen more of a net expense than value added.