China’s One Child Policy Turns Thirty

September 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

Don't be deceived. They are as cute as they are bratty.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of China’s one child policy. I have a  distinct memory of learning about the one child policy in grade school during social studies class because that particular lesson prompted my elementary school crush to say one of the sweetest things a boy had ever said to me…

After class, the then-love-of-my-life approached me and said, “So, what this means is, if your parents stayed in China, you would have never been born?”  I’m the fourth child in my family, so I told him “No, I guess not”. “Gosh,” he said, “Well, I’m glad that they came here then.”

I don’t know what followed afterward. Those were the days that when I liked a boy, I picked on him. So, I might have told him to get lost. Oops.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand- the one child policy. At age 30, the policy is no novelty. Its not making the news headlines–but it continues to have a big impact on China’s social and economic landscape.

Advertising for the one child policy, 1980s

The one child policy may be hard to conceptualize for Americans, who may read it as a violation of freedom and choice, while proponents argue that it is a necessary measure to curb China’s giant population, which is commonly cited by the Chinese as a source of many of the country’s  social and economic ailments.

Interested in learning more? Check out the following:

  • Marketplace has compiled interviews and profiles of those directly impacted by the policy. Hear different perspectives, from the parent who has always longed for a bigger family,  the only child who faces the burden of being the sole caretaker for  her parents , to a point of view from the law enforcement side.
  • The Economist reports that there is rising opposition within the country against the one-child policy. Some advocate a nationwide two-child policy. In some rural areas, and recently in Shanghai, couples are allowed to have a second child without penalty.  And married couples who are themselves the only child in their family are allowed to have two children.
  • One child norm breading brats, warn experts“. This headline from China Daily explains it all. No new news. It has long been a concern that the one child policy would lead to the spoiling rotten of millions of children.
  • China Beat and Marketplace reports less children, less labor. Labor shortages are popping up in China, a country long known for having a limitless supply of labor. This is exected to have a lasting impact on the world economy.
  • The one child policy has led some couples to abort their female fetuses, and in much rarer cases commit infanticide. This has led to the creation of a wide gender gap, a high ratio of boys to girls, making it much more difficult for young Chinese hetero men to find a partner. This is also complicated by what the Shanghaiist calls a trend of dating foreign men among Chinese women.
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§ One Response to China’s One Child Policy Turns Thirty

  • Robert says:

    It may be interesting to compare China’s intentional reduction of the birth rate with Japan’s struggle with their own birth rate. I wonder in China will start to feel some pain from the one child policy as life expectancies increase and there aren’t enough children to pay for all the geezers. Even in America, where the birthrate is reasonable, there is enormous strain on the social security system. So much so that I think many of our generation don’t think we will get much of anything out of social security. Will the one child policy lead to a demographic crisis in China? Only time will tell I suppose…

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