The one-child policy is the population control policy (or planned birth policy) of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese government introduced the policy in 1979 to alleviate the social and environmental problems of China.
The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the issues it raises; because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented; and because of concerns about negative economic and social consequences. The policy is enforced at the provincial level through fines that are imposed based on the income of the family and other factors. However, there are still many citizens that continue to have more than one child, despite this policy. In February 2008 Chinese Government official Wu Jianmin said that the one-child policy would be reconsidered during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March 2008, but at that time a representative of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the policy would remain in place for at least another decade.
Population: Is the policy key to controlling China's population?
China would have far too many children if not for "one child". China estimates that it has three to four hundred million fewer people today with the one child policy than it would have had otherwise.
Ending China's "one-child" policy would cause a population spikeJoseph Chamie, former head of the United Nations population division and now head of the Center for Migration Studies - "Today the fertility level in China is around 1.7 children per woman. if China were to relax its one-child policy, then it’s reasonable to expect that fertility would rise. How much? Well, if fertility increased to replacement level of 2.1 (an increase of just under a half a child), which is not unreasonable given desired family size, the country’s annual number of births would increase by nearly 30 percent, or approximately five million additional births. By midcentury, this would add up to nearly a quarter-billion more Chinese than currently projected by the U.N. And given China’s impact on the environment, especially greenhouse gas emissions, this change of policy clearly portends a great deal."
One-child forestalls problems associated with overpopulation. The reduction in fertility rate and thus population size reduced the severity of problems that come with overpopulation, like epidemics, slums, overwhelmed social services (health, education, law enforcement, and more), and strain on the ecosystem from abuse of fertile land and production of high volumes of waste.
Condoms/sex-ed better population control than "one child""China's population: The most surprising demographic crisis." The Economist. May 5th 2011: "coercive controls had little to do with lowering fertility, which would have happened anyway. Countries that simply improved access to contraceptives—Thailand and Indonesia, for instance—did as much to reduce fertility as China, with its draconian policies. Taiwan, which the government in Beijing regards as an integral part of China, cut its fertility rate as much as China without population controls."
"One child" is only partly responsible for reducing China's fertility ratesHasketh, Lu, and Xing observed: "the policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate. The most dramatic decrease in the rate actually occurred before the policy was imposed. Between 1970 and 1979, the largely voluntary "late, long, few" policy, which called for later childbearing, greater spacing between children, and fewer children, had already resulted in a halving of the total fertility rate, from 5.9 to 2.9. After the one-child policy was introduced, there was a more gradual fall in the rate until 1995, and it has more or less stabilized at approximately 1.7 since then."
India achieved stabilization without population control. As argued above, there are ways to achieve population-size sustainability without implementing a "one child" policy. There are alternative means. India is a good example of this, having achieved broadly similar declines in fertility without state coercion or occasional brutality.
Solid population growth in China is a good thing.Alex Massie. "An Increasing Population is a Good Thing. So is Immigration." The Spectator. May 13th, 2011: "A rising population is a feature of a healthy society, not the beginning of the end for this sceptered land. Of course an increasing population puts pressure on any number of public facilities and services, from transport to schools to housing to hospitals. But so what? It's also a motor for future economic growth which will - hurrah! - provide for all of this. Excess capacity caused by an absence of demand is, as many a rural parish will tell you, a much more grievous problem than having too many people."
Fairness/rights: Is the policy fair to Chinese citizens, rights?
Extreme overpopulation warrants the extreme "one child" policy It is fair to call China's "one child" policy "extreme". But, it is justified in the simple sense that China faces an extreme overpopulation crisis. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Chinese government cannot be blamed for taking these aggressive, but necessary measures.
Chinese can simply pay a fine to have an extra child. In many regions of China, families that really want a second child can have one, and simply have to pay a fine. But, in general, Chinese regional authorities do not go so far as to absolutely ban having a second child. Therefore, the status quo merely discourages and disincentivizes having a second child.
China plans on ending "one child" policy in the futureZhao Baige, vice minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission - "The one-child policy was the only choice we had, given the conditions when we initiated the policy. So as things develop, there might be some changes to the policy, and relevant departments are considering this."
"One child" policy violates right to reproduce and found family. The one-child policy has been criticized by human rights advocacy groups and Western religious advocacy groups who consider it contrary to the human rights of reproduction. Many governments, including the United State government, argue that the policy violates a right to "found a family", which is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
China's one child policy is arbitrarily enforced. The limit has been strongly enforced in urban areas, but the actual implementation varies from location to location.
Age demographics: What does the policy do to age demographics?
Overcrowding is worse problem than aging population. An overcrowded country is, in the long-term, completely unsustainable. An aging population is more manageable, and can be corrected with modifications in policy.
"One child" policy can be modified to improve demographics. Some provinces allow families where each parent was an "only child" to have two children. In 2007, except Henan province, all other provinces in PRC adopted this new adaption.
Gender: Does China's "one child" improve gender equality?
One-child policy improves health services for women. It is reported that the focus of China on population control helps provide a better health service for women and a reduction in the risks of death and injury associated with pregnancy. At family planning offices, women receive free contraception and pre-natal classes. Help is provided for pregnant women to closely monitor their health. In various places in China, the government rolled out a ‘Care for Girls’ programme, which aims at eliminating cultural discrimination against girls in rural and underdeveloped areas through subsidies and education.
"One child" liberates female productivity, improves gender equality Women have traditionally been the primary caregivers for children; however, with fewer children, they have more time to invest in their careers, increasing both their personal earnings and the national GDP. However, critics of the policy have asserted that such a gain may eventually be cancelled out by the increased burden of caring for two elderly parents singlehandedly.
"One child" causes abortion of daughters, demographic shift China, like many other Asian countries, has a long tradition of preferring sons to daughters. Many argue that the one-child policy induces many families to use selective abortion, abandon female infants, and even kill female infants under the influence of the son preference. Some families even kill or starve the female infant and then try again for a male child. The commonly accepted explanation for son preference is that sons in rural families may be thought to be more helpful in farm work. Both rural and urban populations have economic and traditional incentives, including widespread remnants of Confucianism, to prefer sons over daughters. Sons are preferred as they provide the primary financial support for the parents in their retirement, and a son's parents typically are better cared for than his wife's. In addition, Chinese traditionally view that daughters, on their marriage, become primarily part of the groom's family.
Children: Is the one-child policy good for children?
"One child" policies improve China for young generations. "One child" policies improve China by making its population size more sustainable and by, subsequently, improving the living standards of Chinese citizens now and in the future. This is certainly good for young Chinese.
It prevents sibling rivalry. A lot of children have sibling rivalry with their brothers or sisters. A lot of children also hate their siblings or are bullied by them. This policy prevents that.
Parents with one child will care more for that child. If parents have one child, they will look after them and care for them more than if there were three or four children. The child would in most cases be loved more, get more personal attention, and be ensured the resources to succeed.
The children will still have families. Children born with no brothers or sisters will still have a family. They will have a mum and dad, grandparents and possibly aunts, uncles and cousins.
China's "one child" policy fosters spoiled children. Some parents may over-indulge their only-child. The media referred to the indulged children in one-child families as "little emperors". Since the 1990s, some people worry this will result in a higher tendency toward poor social communication and cooperation skills among the new generation, as they have no siblings at home. However, no social studies have investigated the ratio of these over-indulged children and to what extent they are indulged. With the first generation of one-child policy children (those born in the 1980s) reaching adulthood, such worries are reduced.
China's "one child" policy increases individual savings. The individual savings rate has increased since the introduction of the One Child Policy. This has been partially attributed to the policy in two respects. First, the average Chinese household expends fewer resources, both in terms of time and money, on children, which gives many Chinese more money with which to invest. Second, since young Chinese can no longer rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an impetus to save money for the future.
"One child" policy maintains a steady employment rate. With overpopulation, it is common that a population will see rising unemployment rates.
Fees for second child are economically damaging. A U.S. official named Dewey testified that parents who bear a second child are required to pay a "social compensation fee", which ranges from half of the local average annual income to ten times that.
An associate professor of economics at Columbia University, Lena Edlund, has found that a 1% increase in the ratio of males to females equates to an increase in violent and property crime of as much as 6%, "suggesting that male sex ratios may account for 28% to 38% of the rise in crime." Ms. Edlund, who studied crime rates in China between 1988 and 2004, discussed her findings at a conference earlier this month at New York University."
Environment: Is the "one child" policy good for the environment?
In solving the pollution and the environment, China advocates this policy in helping reduce their carbon dioxide output. The government suggested that every human body exhale too much carbon dioxide, and cited statistics that reducing the countries' population would greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from human respiration.
China's "one child" policy slows depletion of natural resources.
Discrimination: Can China's "one child" policy avoid racism?
This policy is not exactly racist. The "one child" possibly is not racist, it is simply trying to control China's extreme population.
Chinese opinion: Where does the Chinese stand on it?
Chinese understand their success depends on "one child". Many Chinese people are able to have a second child and are willing to pay the fine. Yet, they choose not to do so on the philosophical grounds that it is better for the country to not have a second child.