China, an Anti Natalist Country

By Alex Jackson

China’s One Child Policy

History

  • 1953 - First modern census takes place in China. The population comes in as 583 million.
  • Between 1953 and 1964 the population increased by 112 million as Mao Zedong encouraged larger families in an attempt to make China stronger.
  • Attempts to slow down population growth were started in the 1970s using the slogan “Later, longer, fewer”. People were encouraged to limit families to two children.
  • 1979 - One child policy introduced.
  • 2010 - Population: 1.335 billion.

Reasons for the policy

  1. Combat population explosion.
    • Imbalances between population and available resources. China has 7% of the world’s agricultural land and 23% of the world’s population.
  2. To encourage economic development
    • Improving the standard of living for the population.

Mechanisms

  • Law introduced to limit the number of births applied to the Han majority (90% of the population) but not the ethnic minorities.
  • Cash bonuses, improved housing and free education/medical care if couples limit themselves to one child.
  • Free birth control and family planning advice.
  • Age limits and certificates for marriage. Couples would have to apply for marriage certificates.
  • Anyone housing more than one child lost benefits and faced financial penalties (generally 3× their salary).

Issues

Demographic Structure

  • Future ageing population and high dependency ratios.
  • Shortage of economically active age group.

Gender Structure

  • Ratio of 117 males for every 100 females among babies from birth through children of four years of age. Normally, 105 males are born for every 100 females.
  • By 2020, an estimated 30 million men will be unable to find a wife and have a child earning them the title “Bare branches”.

Civil Liberties & Human Rights

  • Women pregnant for a second time often coerced into having an abortion or sterilisation particularly during the early years of the policy.
  • “Granny Police” were recruited in settlements to spy on people in their community who might be trying to keep a pregnancy secret.

Civil Unrest

  • Opposition in rural areas, where stronger requirements for sons to work in fields, continue family name and look after parents in their old age, exist.
  • Reports of gender selective abortions, hidden children, abandoned girls and, in rare cases, female infanticide.

Little Emperor Syndrome

  • Indulged and closeted boys who are often arrogant and lacking in social skills.

Future

Amendments

  • In rural areas, if the first child is a girl then a couple can have a second child.
  • If the first child is unhealthy, a couple can have a second child.
  • If both parents are only children, they can have two children.

Success

  • Total fertility rate has declined from 6.2 in 1950 to 1.6 in 2009, which is below replacement level. The rate of natural increase has declined to 0.5% from 2.2% in the 1970s.
  • Policy has met the most success amongst urban populations. It has been less successful in rural areas where families have continued to have 2 or 3 children.
  • It is estimate that without the policy there would have been an extra 400 million Chinese people born between 1970 and 2009.
  • The reduction in the rate of population growth during the 1990s was accompanied by a noticeable rise in GNP.
  • Greater equality for women as status is enhanced. Women are offered more opportunities for gaining greater knowledge.