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Drawbacks Of The One-Child Policy In China

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During the 1960s the population of China was growing faster than ever before. There was a population boom in the People’s Republic of China, largely credited to the ever-growing economy of the country. Today, it is the most populous country in the world, consisting of ~15% of the global population. Statistics state that every one in five people in the world come from China.

A population as large as this comes with its own issues, and at times… its own benefits. The government needs to support the people living in their countries, largely involving facilities like health, education, jobs, salaries and overall, a higher standard of living. These factors have crippling effects on the country set to be a world power. To suffice for the requirements, the one-child policy was introduced.

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The one-child policy was a family planning project implemented to reduce fertility and birth rates in China. The rule is simple: You can only have one child. Some of the other factors that the policy affected were the abortion rates, numbers of the working class and a sustained increase in the older sections of the society. We will be discussing the pros and cons of the policy, and more importantly answer the question: Was it successful and should this method be utilized by other countries?

There has been a lot of cases of rebuttal against this policy, as it causes major discontent among the Chinese population. Many newspapers have also described the policy as ‘barbaric’ and they were true to their words. The main goal behind the policy was achieved: to reduce the birth rate. But it came with its cost.

The overabundance of the older population

As the birth rates continually declined, the ‘older generations’ were being left behind, while there were not enough people to work. 18% of China’s population is mostly comprised of people aged over 65, while it is set to reach a high of 35% by 2030. Supporting the older generation means the government will need to invest more in providing healthcare, pensions and other facilities. Due to this, the taxes in the country increases drastically.

A smaller working class

As mentioned before, the taxes increase. But this will have a doubled effect since the number of people in the workforce has and will continue to reduce. It is stated that there China will be short of 30 million people to support the ever-growing population. They need more people to work for the future, except there are not enough people. This was one of the most influential factors due to which the policy was given up.

The 4-2-1 problem

According to Chinese tradition, the ‘heir’ or the newer members of the family take care of the elders throughout their lifetime. When there is only one child, it adds extra load to the responsibilities they need to carry, especially when compared to the burden which would have been divided among siblings. Due to this, there was also a male preference as they were considered the ‘ideal’ successor to the family.

Male preference/ inequality in gender ratios

There is a clear disparity in the gender ratios between male and female. During one stage, 180 males were born for every 100 females. A male preference is a common trend in Chinese families (they believed the men in being self-reliant and strong compared to women), and these have led to dire consequences.

One of the more evident problems is the gender ratio inequality, but there was an issue far worse. If the parents knew that their baby was female, many resorted to methods like aborting a girl child or giving them away to other families so they could have ‘another try’. During the year of 2000, the Chinese government was reported that 90% of the abortions were of female fetuses. This also caused the Chinese government to create a new law, where the parents weren’t allowed to know the gender of their baby. Even then, people paid the doctors (about US $10) to do an ultrasound scan to find the gender. Not only is this a violation of law, this leads them to abort the female children as well

Punishments based on the violation of the one-child policy

One of the most criticized aspects of the one-child policy was the punishments the people had to face by breaking the policy. There were thousands of abortions, forced sterilization, and prevention of basic benefits for the ‘unrecognized population’ that lived in the country. These punishments caused mass outrage throughout the country and this became of the most important reasons why the policy was modified.

Due to the policy, the whole country was held back by the cons of the policy. It surely stabilized the population growth of China, but the unwanted ‘side effects’ caused a lot more trouble than the country expected. With its economy growing quicker than ever, a small working class had its own issues: Income problems, increased tax, longer working hours, etc. Soon enough, the country’s government deemed the policy to be unsuccessful, modifying the policy into a two-child policy, which favored the conditions and the needs of the population. But it is neither the only solution nor the best one.


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