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China’s One-Child Policy
Alison Griffin 03/19/2020 09:45 AM CST


In the mid-20th century, the Chinese government felt the need to take action on population policy for the first time. A few years later, the country legally restricted family size when the fact of its population saturation had become apparent. Thus, through strict policy, the government tried to keep the land, energy, water and financial resources of the state. One-child policy in China has led to both positive and negative consequences. The following paper considers the history of the scheme as well as its pros and cons, and the overall concept free short answer questions examples

The History of the Policy

The first attempts to reduce the birth rate of the country were made in 1956 during the rule of Mao Zedong. It is remarkable that the leader of the country was against this policy believing that the power of the Chinese people lies in its numbers. Nevertheless, the government introduced the appropriate legislation which did not bring the expected results due to poor publicity, and the low efficiency of the relevant laws. The first phase of the one-child policy was aimed at labor mobilization and industrialization. Fertility declined only in some parts of the state.

The second stage of the scheme began in 1962 and lasted for four years ending with the collapse of the Cultural Revolution, which had been carried out by Mao Zedong. Unlike the first phase, the second one aimed to delay marriage, reduce a family size, and prolong the intervals between having babies. Some minor changes in demographics occurred, however, in general, the effect was small. As it is possible to see, these first attempts were not as severe as in the late 20th century as the government did not employ extreme measures such as limiting the number of births, inducing abortions, and so on.

To continue, the third phase of the birth planning company started in 1971 and lasted until 1979. The so-called w?n x? sh?o policy (late, rarely, few) was adopted. The government directed much more efforts to improve the effectiveness of the scheme that affected the results. Abortion and contraception were widely used at the period. For the first time, the number of children allowed in the family was reduced from three to one. The laws became much stricter at both the state level and at the provincial one.

Furthermore, 1979 marked the beginning of the fourth stage and the official introduction of the one-child policy. In addition to the fact that the government preserved the allowed number of children, the scheme was improved by the introduction of penalties and rewards. In such a way, the officials attempted to reduce the population to 1.2 billion people before the beginning of the new millennium.

The fifth period began in the mid-1980s, and was marked by the weakening of the one-child policy. In 1984, the government signed the so-called Document 7 which proclaimed the setting of much more realistic goals. To start from, the villagers had the right to have a second child. In addition, the officials took an aim of reducing the population to around 1.2 billion people, not exactly such a number as it was stated during the fourth stage. This caused some of the consequences, for example, population growth in rural areas.

Nevertheless, 1989 was the last step in the tightening of China’s population policy. Additional stricter measures were introduced together with the mandatory declaration which means that the demographic situation was brought under control.

The Influence of the One-Child Policy

The one-child policy has led to some positive effects. First, the government achieved its objective and reduced the population growth to 1.24 billion people in 2000. In addition, the birth rate has begun to decline markedly, and has been close to the level of recovery that was also the aim of the scheme. Furthermore, since almost all the families have only one child, they take care of his/her studying which has led to a significant increase in the level of education.

However, there is much debate about the number of negative consequences the legislation. One of the first side effects of the new population policy is the practice of clandestine services to establish the sex of the expected child. The Chinese government has banned the ultrasonography allowing its use only for specific medical conditions. As a result, a black market has started to develop at an impressive scale. Each family wants a boy, when it is allowed to have only one kid. Thus, selective abortions have become commonplace.

Due to the fact that every family wants to have a boy, the gender imbalance has become another adverse outcome, which is a real problem for China. The male part of the population is predominant exceeding the female one by approximately 20 million people. Moreover, according to scientists, this gap will have increased to forty million by 2020. Today, the authorities are trying to make efforts to encourage the birth of girls, but they have not brought tangible results.

The gender imbalance, in its turn, has led to other negative consequences. In particular, it has caused the growing number of gay men. The Chinese government is trying to make concessions and take measures to legalize gay marriage. For example, in the state, homosexuality ceased to be a crime in 1997, and in 2001, it was removed from the list of mental illnesses. However, the same-sex relationships are still perceived with the prejudice.

Additionally, in 2013, a significant reduction in China’s working-age population was registered. In the period from 2013 to 2015, this group of citizens decreased by about four million people. Moreover, the so-called Maternity Tourism has also become one of the consequences of the one-child policy. Trying to circumvent the law, the Chinese pairs have left for Hong Kong for having a baby since it has its own legislation. The government has spent a lot of effort to solve the issue. For example, certain quotas for the number of pregnant women from the mainland have been introduced. It is noteworthy that the parent tourism has become a problem not only on the level of China, but also to the Hong Kong authorities. The citizens of the city have become dissatisfied with the massive influx of the women expecting babies which has caused social tension.

In addition, it should be said that the scheme was not mandatory for all inhabitants of the state. The law does not apply for a number of nations whose number does not exceed 100 thousand individuals. For instance, having a population of 21 thousand, Jing people have the right to have any number of children.

If to talk about the modern one-child policy, it should be said that its large-scale negative consequences have led to a review of its effectiveness and feasibility. At the end of 2015, after four-day sittings, the Chinese government announced that it would cancel the scheme allowing families to have two children. Prior to that, in late 2013, the government adopted the legislation to let families to have two kids if the father or mother were an only child in his/her family.

It should be noted that the policy has led to the rapid aging of the nation today. In 2014, the share of a working-age population declined for the first time in twenty years. In addition, according to the forecasts, the number of the elderly citizens (those over 60) will grow by about 30%. Moreover, the aging of the population has led not only to social disadvantages, but also economic ones. After all, this group of community spends much less money than the young that leads to a significant decrease in the domestic consumption and can result in the drop in economic growth.

As a consequence, the adoption of the relevant measures was necessary. On December 27, 2015, the government adopted all the needed laws that regulate the increase in the authorized number of children in one family that came into action on January 1, 2016. According to the forecasts, this law will lead to the birth of more than three million children every year in addition to those born at present. By the way, in 2014, approximately 17 million children were born in China.

To summarize, it should be said the significant population growth in the early 20th century led to the fact that the resources of the country began to be depleted at a incredible pace. Consequently, the government began to take the necessary measures such as increasing the allowable interval between the births of children, establishing fines, and so on. However, these actions were not sufficiently effective. Therefore, in 1979, the government introduced the one-child policy prohibiting families to have more than one kid. Thus, the government achieved its goal, and in 2000, the number of China’s population was 1.24 billion. However, this has led to a number of negative consequences including the aging of the nation, the decline in domestic consumption, and gender imbalance. At the end of 2015, for the first time in thirty years, the government decided to cancel the one-child policy to avoid eliminate all of its drawbacks.