One child policy
The one-child policy (simplified Chinese: 计划生育政策; pinyin: jìhuà shēngyù zhèngcè; literally “policy of birth planning”) is the population control policy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Initiated in 1979, this policy aimed at alleviating social, economic, and environmental problems in China.It urged that married urban couples can have one child, with the exemptions for Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau,Tibet and rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. According to a survey of the Pew Research Center, over 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy. However, it is still quite controversial inside and outside China, considering the fact that it might cause negative economic and social effects, and other side effects such as gender imbalance.
Like many other Asian countries, China has a long tradition of son preference. In rural areas, a son is generally preferred since he is more helpful in farm work and is seen as continuing the family line. The sex ratio at birth in China was 108:100 in 1981, and it had risen to 111:100 in 1990. In 2000, it reached 117:100. In 2000, male/female sex ratio from the 2nd to 5th child ranged from 148 : 100 to 160 : 100. According to William Saletan , the high figures for second birth could reach to 190 in Anhui and 192 in Jiangsu. For third births, the sex ratio rose to over 200 in four provinces. The State Population and Family Planning Commission warned that gender imbalances could lead to social instability. China’s men are facing a shortage of wives, with a predicted 30 million more men of marriageable age than women by 2020,and what is worse,in rural areas – where the imbalance is at its greatest – will be further affected because women are “marrying out” into cities.
Why would the boy-girl ratio rise rapidly with birth order? The exemptions for rural couples give them a second chance or sometimes a third chance to have a boy if the first birth is a girl. Then if the next fetus is a girl, she is more likely to be aborted in order to try again for a son.
According to Sten Johansson and Ola Nygren (1991) adoptions accounted for half of the so-called “missing girls” in the 1980s in China. Through the 1980s, as the one-child policy came into force, parents who desired a son but bore a daughter in some cases failed to report or delayed the reporting of the birth of the girl to the authorities. But rather than neglecting or abandoning unwanted girls, the parents may have offered them up for formal or informal adoption. A majority of children who went through formal adoption in China in the later 1980s were girls, and the proportion who were girls increased over time (Johansson and Nygren 1991)
In some areas, the couples turn to fertility medicines to have multiple births so as to avoid legal penalties. According to the 2006 China daily report, the number of multiple births per year in China has doubled by 2006.
- Associated Press (14 February 2006). “China: Drug bid to beat child ban”. China Daily. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-02/14/content_520025.htm
- Chen Wei(2005).”Sex Ratios at Birth in China” http://www.cicred.org/Eng/Seminars/Details/Seminars/FDA/papers/18_ChenWei.pdf
- Hazel Wong, Wang Yunxian, Zhao Qun and Feng Yuan, Women and poverty in China, Third World Resurgence No. 177, May 2005
- Sten Johansson and Ola Nygren. 1991. “The Missing Girls of China: A New Demographic Account”, Population and Development Review 17 (March): 35-51.
- William Saletan , Sex ReversalChild quotas, abortion, and China’s missing girls http://www.slate.com/id/2216236/fr/nl/
- The Chinese Celebrate Their Roaring Economy, As They Struggle With Its Costs”. 2008-07-22. http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=261