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China the one-child policy
The People's Republic of China is the only country in the world to introduce quotas to
control the number of children people can have. In 1970 the Chinese government issued
three policies to reduce the birth rate:
1 Late marriage men were encouraged to marry no earlier than 28 years old (25 in rural
areas) and women no earlier than 25 years old (23 in rural areas).
2 Longer spacing between births
couples were encouraged to allow at least a four-year gap after the first child before
having another baby.
3 Fewer children it was suggested that urban families should be limited to two children,
and rural families to three children.
In 1979 the authorities tightened their control and limited all households to only one child.
The goal of this policy was to limit China's population to 1.2 billion by the year 2000.
The policy proved extremely difficult for many families, with a complicated system of
rewards, incentives, fines and punishments, which included:
· massive advertising campaigns
· tax incentives for those who had just one child
· women being forced or coerced into having abortions
· free services for single children, with heavy fees for additional children
· neighbours being encouraged to `inform' on family or friends who were expecting or
considering having more than one child.
The policy has been heavily criticised for taking away the rights of the individual to
choose the size of their family, but was it successful in slowing China's population growth?
During the 1970s the average number of children per woman in China dropped from 6
to 2.5. The policy was harder to enforce in some remote rural areas where there was
great pressure on women to produce sons to work on the land. The original goal of limiting
China's population to 1.2 billion by 2000 had to be dropped when population levels had
already reached 1.23 billion by the mid-1990s.
There has also been one major and unexpected side-effect of the one child policy which is
beginning to cause problems:
China now has a shrinking population of working aged adults. As the population ages
there will be fewer people of working age to support the elderly. The standard of care for
the elderly in China has already declined sharply as a result of this attempt at population
What now for China?
In 2002 China adopted its new `Law on Population and Family Planning'. This is an attempt
to bring greater legal force to China's population policy. Some of the features of the new
law are recognisable from the original 1979 policy. For example, early marriage is
discouraged; the one child policy for married couples is upheld, allowing for a second
child only in exceptional circumstances; and a scheme of incentives and disincentives
has been created by specifically rewarding parents who have only one child. Views on
the one-child policy are different in the countryside and in the city.
There are, however, some positive features in the new law, such as the banning of
discrimination against female infants, which can result in their maltreatment and even
abandonment. Perhaps the most significant feature of the new law is that it requires
population and family planning activities to go hand in hand with efforts aimed at
educating women, providing jobs, and improving women's wealth and status. Unless
these issues for women are addressed, it is unlikely that any policy will be successful.
Other pages in this set
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Issues of the 1979 China One Child Policy
Anti Social Behaviour towards parents who had more than one child
Male babies favoured Female ones aborted illegally
Female Babies abandoned Undervalued Killed (Infanticide)
People forced to have abortions and be sterilised
Illegal babies had no identity because they were not registered to avoid big fines
therefore they lose their right to education and other services.…read more