China’s One Child Policy: Success or Failure?

one-child-policy-graphThe policy of birth planning in China was enacted as a population-control strategy amidst concerns of the country’s alarmingly high birth rate and the economic, social, and environmental concerns associated with it. Chinese Chairman Deng Xiao Ping began lobbying for the decree aimed at limiting married couples to one birth in the late 1970s. It was drafted as early as 1977 and was implemented in 1979. An open public letter by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee officially recognized it as law on Sept. 25, 1980.

In 2006 the State Commission of Population and Family Planning stated that this stringent measure was no longer temporary and was deemed to continue indefinitely. While it did not meet its original objective of zero population growth, state officials were satisfied since China’s birth rate had dropped significantly. A staggering approximation of 400 million births was prevented in just over three decades.

The policy was met with criticism despite its success due to harsh and inhumane penalties. Violators are subjected to fines that can amount to over double the family’s annual income in addition to no longer receiving public services. Many fear destitution and give the unplanned babies to over-populated orphanages in order to avoid afflicting poverty on their families. People of China report government pressure to abort pregnancies even if they are near expected delivery. In some cases women are abducted by officials and involuntarily endure procedures for sterilization or late-term abortion. The families claim that they were unaware of the disappearances or were made to wait by guards.

China is a large country and as such it has always been ruled with authority to maintain stability. The one child policy is just one example, other examples are that the Internet is not freely used. Online gambling, betting and foreign social networks are not allowed or restricted. So websites such as or cannot be accessed from China, and even is hard to use as well. These regulations are believed to be necessary to promote hard work and avoid social unrest

The 3 provinces of Jiangxi, Anhui and Zhejiang began practicing an amendment allowing couples that have a parent born out of the one-child policy to have a second child in November 2013. Special consideration was previously given in cases where couples have both parents born out of the one-child policy. Considerations for demographics, minorities, parents with girls or abnormal children, those whose children have died and woman delivering children abroad have also been made in the past. A couple must submit an application to be eligible for consideration no matter the reason for the request.

The birth restrictions leave many Chinese couples dissatisfied with family life. It isn’t uncommon for them to kill or disregard and not report the birth of baby girls due to their desire to have a boy in order to continue the family name. It became such a common practice that it is unlawful for medical practitioners to disclose the gender of a fetus to the parents. Other ways they have dealt with their restrictions are by going to fertility clinics. Since the number of children conceived and delivered has always remained irrelevant and the number of live pregnancies is only dictated by law, they frequent fertility clinics to increase their chances of multiple births.

More pressing negative effects of the policy include their aging population in which there is often only one child to care for the elderly parents as well as their own families. Old people have a number of health problems like joint and liver pain, diabetes or overall pain in the body. As they don’t have a turmeric supplement to relieve the pain and medical coverage is still in its infancy in the countryside, they expect their children to take care of them when they retire.

Another matter is that the male to female ratio makes it increasingly more difficult for the men to find wives. It can leave them with no children to care for them when they age as well as an overall dissatisfaction with life due to lack of companionship. In the event that a child is unlawfully born and the officials learn of it, they can take the child if the parents can’t pay the fine and leave the family to continue life emotionally devastated.

Despite the country enduring these hardships relating to restricted births, more than half of the population supports it. The smaller family size results in lower family and municipal expenses. As a result the economy remained bullish in 2013 with its 7.7% growth.

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