China’s One Child Policy

ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Maison Ross, Editor in Chief

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In 1979, the Chinese government introduced a one-child policy as a method of controlling an explosive population growth that was wrecking havoc upon the country with famine. The policy specifically mandated that couples from China’s Han majority were restricted to having one child, which would promote the growth of minorities and diversify the population. When couples fail to abide by the law, they face the possibility of fines, sterilizations, and abortions. While the policy succeeded in controlling the overwhelming population growth, it created several unintended consequences such as the abandonment of girls, a growing gender imbalance, and an increase in fat and spoiled children. These unintended consequences pose a great threat to the current generation as well as future generations of Chinese citizens.

The ancient tradition of male preference has caused thousands of Chinese girls to be abandoned, aborted, hidden, or killed. Couples feel pressured to have a boy since they carry on the family name, become laborers, and have the ability to take care of their parents in old age. In the countryside, the pressure to have boys is intensified since most families cannot afford to provide for a child that will eventually leave the home without a source of income. In response, the Chinese government has attempted to educate people in the countryside about the benefits of having girls. However, their efforts are futile since the male preference continues to cause the abandonment of over 100,000 girls every year.

The one-child policy has also caused a growing gender imbalance among younger generations. Due to the male preference, the number of boys outnumbers the number of girls by nearly thirteen million. The imbalance is so prevalent that by 2020, there will be forty million marriage-aged men who will have no one to marry. The loss of women in society has only caused other issues to arise as China experiences an increase in violence, forced marriages, prostitution, and abductions.

In addition, the third unintended consequence of the one-child policy is that parents overcompensate for the lack of siblings. Parents spoil their children so much that they try to give the child everything they want, creating “little emperors.” The children often excessively eat because of their parent’s prompting to fulfill every aspect of their child’s life. This spoiled treatment of children creates a mentality of instant gratification along with an overwhelming amount of obesity.

While minorities can have more than one child, the rest of the population suffers from the consequences of the one-child policy. Therefore, the policy has gone through several modifications to counter the unintended outcomes. In 2013, a modification of policy allowed over 12 million couples to apply to have a second child. In 2016 the policy was revised again, allowing most couples to be restricted to two children, encouraging the diversification of the predominantly male population. However, China’s problems may only be temporarily relieved. Many families still prefer to only have one child due to accustom. Additionally, the gender imbalance may continue to grow as families attempt to abandon their second daughter in hopes of replacing her for a son. Although the one-child policy may be nearly eliminated, Chinese citizens will continue to face its repercussions for generations to come.

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