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Chinese One-Child Policy: Restrictions On Childbearing And Family Size (Essay Sample)


Discuss china's one child policy


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Chinese One-Child Policy: Introduction
In 1979, China had a population of about a quarter of the world's population. A big part of the population was under 30 years, and it was entering the childbearing years. Afraid of the economic implications of an increase in population, the government introduced the one-child policy. (Festini & de Martino, 358-360) This policy was designated to temporary control population growth by limiting couples to having only one child. The Chinese government at that time targeted that the population of the country by 2000 would be around 1.2 billion. However, in 2000 the population was around 1.26 billion (World Bank), slightly higher than what the government had aimed for.
This policy consisted of restrictions on child bearing, family size and even late marriage. However, this rule was not all-encompassing because it was restricted to the majority that lived in the cities and exempted the minorities that lived in the rural areas. The reason for this was that those living in the urban areas were socially and economically stable compared to those living in the rural areas that depend on their children support. This created an obvious difference between in fertility rate between the regions. The only exceptions for those living in the urban areas were if the first child is born with a disability or if the couple worked in life-endangering occupations such as mining (Hesketh and Xing, 1171-1176).
The government also introduced different economic and social incentives so that the population complies with it in the effort of a successful implementation. Economic incentives included taxes and fines for those who went against the policy. Social incentives for those that complied with the policy included the grant to preferred access to healthcare, housing and education. (Festini & de Martino, 358-360)
Effects of the Policy
The introduction of the policy has had both positive and negative impacts. One of the major effects of the policy was the prevention of closer to 250 to 300 million births. There was also a reduction in the total fertility rate between 1980 and 2011 from 2.7 children per woman to 1.7 (World Bank). This scale down of total fertility rate led to the reduction of the total population of the country. In the end, the country avoided the population explosion they feared, improved the living standards and maintained steady economic growth.
However, the population growth mitigation created concerns of the future demographic situation of the country. The total fertility rate was heading below the replacement level of 2.1, and there were worries that later or sooner the country would have a growing prospect of an aging population and have a small working age population. In the long term, there would be a shift in the dependency ratio and the government would be under immense pressure to provide the social and economic support to the elderly population.
The policy also contributed significantly to the reduction of mortality rate since women had fewer pregnancies and births (World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and The World Bank). Nevertheless, this came at the cost of deprivation of choice for family size and contraceptive use. Women were without formal consent inserted intrauterine devices post-partum in rural China. They had to seek permission for removal to conceive a second baby. Over-zealous officials also took it upon themselves to order forced abortions and sterilizations on most women whose pregnancies were unapproved under the policy. However, such cases only occurred during the early years after the policy had been implemented and became rare as the yea

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