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China abandons One Child Policy

Amanda Su, Co-Student Life Editor

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On Oct. 29, the Chinese government ended the 35-year-long One Child Policy, now allowing couples to legally have two children.

In the 1970s, a one child policy was instituted for the purpose of controlling the rapidly and exponentially increasing population. Throughout the last couple of years, China loosened its strict enforcement of the policy, but not until recently did the government entirely abandon it. In 2013, they allowed certain couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child. This, however, proved to have no great impact. Even when given the option to have two children, parents often opted to adhere to the one child standard since raising more than one child can be financially burdensome.

Although China’s current population remains the highest in the entire world at 1.3 billion, the One Child Policy effectively kept the population from growing far more than it already has, preventing an increase of about 400 million people.

When the Chinese government decided to abandon the policy, several factors prompted the decision. A major factor was the idea of gender favoritism. Especially in rural areas, the traditional desire to have a male child often led to drastic measures taken by parents to ensure one. Some examples of these measures are aborting, abandoning children, or in some cases, committing infanticide. These ethical nightmares have become a significant player in the government’s decision.

Besides the obvious moral issues, all these measures also led to an increasing gap between the populations of males and females in China. This aging population dilemma has shrunk the workforce as the members of older generations retire, leaving younger generations to supersede jobs needed to support China’s booming economy. Currently around 10 percent of the population is aged 65 years and older. At this rate, by 2035, it is likely to increase to 20 percent. The current proportionally smaller work force, due to the One Child Policy, has led to an increased burden on the younger generation to support the massive population of older generations.

Although the new Two Child Policy has promises of improving China’s current conditions, there are still people that question its consequences. Even with the new policy, past experiences of China easing the previous policy were ineffective simply because some couples didn’t want two children. It is possible a large portion of the population won’t even take advantage of this policy at all, since having one child is not only less financially straining, but has also become a social norm in China over time.

Mu Guangzong, professor of demography at Peking University, says, “I don’t think a lot of parents would act on it, because the economic pressure of raising children is very high in China. The birthrate in China is low and its population is aging quickly, so from the policy point of view, it’s a good thing, as it will help combat a shortage of labor force in the future. But many parents simply don’t have the economic conditions to raise more children” (New York Times).

Not to mention, even though the revised policy may help with overall national economic issues, the damage left on some families remains permanent.

Juliana Liu, a BBC News Hong Kong correspondent, is a part of a family deeply affected by the One Child Policy. Born in 1979, the year the policy was implemented, Liu technically wasn’t even supposed to be born. Due to the kindness of certain officials, her birth was allowed, while her “would have been” siblings did not share the same privilege.

“As a result of the policy, my mother had to endure two abortions. Even today, she talks about ‘Number Two’ and ‘Number Three’ and what they might have been like” (BBC News).

Even revoked, the One Child Policy will still leave a mark on families and children who will never know the feeling of having siblings.

The policy will still take quite a long time before being put into action. It must first be endorsed by the central Chinese government, then by the individual provincial governments that may also alter the overall national policy to their standards. Before being put into the action, the entire process could take several months. Even once the policy is put into play, the problem that sparked this will return: a growing population. If the Two Child Policy is implemented in 2016, the population will increase to approximately 1.46 billion by 2035.

So while the Two Child Policy may allow couples to provide their children with a sibling, the country currently holding the record of the highest population in the world will continue to fill with people, already bursting at its seams.

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The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.
China abandons One Child Policy