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China's one Child Policy and the Effect on the Country's Demography

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China's One Child Policy and the effect on the country's demography.

The Chinese One Child Policy was implemented in 1979 due to an escalating population and increasing fertility rates. The root cause of this population boom is attributed to the 1960's and Mao Zedong's belief of "The more people, the stronger we are". At the time the communist dictator did not believe that the population growth would eventually increase beyond the food supply. During the thirteen year period between 1960 and 1973 the Chinese population grew two percent of more each year. (Potts, 2006) This resulted in China's population rising so rapidly that China became in danger of falling into what Demographers call a "Demographic Trap". The One Child policy was intended as the solution to this problem but was accompanied by its own issues including: potential implementation of a worldwide policy, a severe gender imbalance and a rapidly ageing population with little support from a younger generation. Designed to solve the ever increasing problem of a rising population, the One Child policy instead caused even more issues to the demography of a fragile developing country.

In its thirty years in existence, the One Child policy has been the center of numerous debates and is still a hotly contested issue with several governments. While in power the Bush administration refused to fund the United Nations population fund because it was working in China even though the fund had never supported the one child policy (Potts, 2006)

Even though there have been countless issues associated with the One Child policy there has been some positive feedback being given. It has been able to reduce the birth rate and population growth significantly which allowed China to expand into a sustainable society. The One Child policy has been attributed with reducing the population by an estimated 250 million people. (Kane and Choi, 1999) There have even been people who have suggested that the One Child policy be implemented around the world as a means to stop the rise of the global population. It is felt that if the global population continues to rise at the current rate that it will become unsustainable in only a couple decades. (Ingraham, 2009) With current populations in countries in Africa and Asia growing at alarming rates and with food already being very scare in large regions around the world, the One Child policy was suggest as a means of "saving" lives. It was stated that there are too many people around the world having too many kids that they cannot take care of which in turn results in 16,000 children who die every day because of illnesses linked to starvation. (Ingraham, 2009) This view was put forward by a Canadian editor of a large newspaper, the view was immediately a hot topic of debate with countless people opposing the views. The Chinese policy was implemented with good intentions of reducing the population and ensuring a sustainable future, unfortunately there were unforeseen problems that arose during the implementation that led to a bias towards male babies and many other issues.

One of the people that have not been convinced by the positive elements of the One Child policy is He Yafu, an independent demographer located in China who has gone as far to say "No matter what positive impact some scholars attribute to China's family planning, the one-child policy is the main reason for the most serious population problems we are facing now - rapidly ageing population and a severe gender imbalance. There is no doubt that at the time the One Child policy was created the population in China was growing out of control and something had to be done about it. One of the main reasons that allowed China to be able to implement such a controversial and widely opposed policy was because the ruling party was a communist regime. When the party came to power in 1949 it was widely believed that having a large population made the country stronger. Mao Zedong, the dictator at the time opposed the traditional Malthusian arguments and did not believe that the population could grow beyond the food supply. (Baculinao, 2004) The government did not foresee the problem until it was too late, at the time when something drastic needed to be implemented to solve it. Residents within China were not given a choice, and with 70% of the population living in rural areas with minimal educations many did not fully understand the magnitude of the policy. (Hesketh, 2005) After thirty years in existence the Chinese culture has shifted towards a preference of smaller families (see table below) but along the way has suffered severe damages to its cultural fabric and demographic breakdown.

In anticipation of the thirty year anniversary of China's One Child policy there were several studies done of the implications of the policy and the effect on the demographics of the Chinese population. One of the major findings of these studies was the overwhelming discrepancy between the amount of males versus females born during the policy's administration.

The guidelines of the One Child policy limited couples attempting to conceive, forcing them to register all children being born and paying a large premium or a tax for any additional children. In some cases there were claims of Chinese government officials confiscating "illegal" children and sending them to orphanages where they were put up for adoption in other countries. (Illegal Children will be confiscated, 2011) Being limited to one child and facing severe punishments for breaching the restrictions many couples aborted or neglected females so that they were able to raise a male child. While the numbers of sex selected abortions are impossible to attain it is widely speculated that it was the main cause for the decline in female births. "In rural areas, where approximately 70 percent of the people live, a second child is generally allowed after five years, but this provision sometimes applies only if the first child is a girl". (Hesketh, 2005) This clear preference of a male child over a female is a huge problem for Chinese demography with the ratio of male to female births estimated at 1.15 across the whole cohort. (Potts, 2006)

It is no secret that there has been a clear preference in China towards male offspring rather than female, but the reasons why vary. One of the main reasons for this clear bias is imbedded in the ancient cultural values that China was built upon. One's family name represents continuity of lineage and protection when parents reached old age, only a son could pass along the family's name. This has been a long standing source of pride for Chinese families over the course of its history. Families without sons have

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