The Chinese birth control policy is known as an example of efficiency. Indeed, the country's fertility rate has felt from 7.55 in 1962 to 1.88 forty years later. How can we explain such a change in a population that was supposed to experience a demographic explosion in the seventies ? Several birth control policies have been applied to get such a significant result.
Demography became a concern for soviet China after the first census of the population, in 1952, which result was one sixth bigger than the government's expectations, with 590 million people. Still, the issue was soon eclipsed by the great famine of 1959. During the year 1960, the natality rate had dropped that much that the population lost 3 million people in one year. Thus the regain of economic growth in 1961 resulted in a strong Chinese birth rate decade, with 20 million to 30 million birth a year. The watchword of the decade was “more arms, more strength”, and the Chinese population was encouraged to give birth to an army of “little soldiers”. The quick increasing of the population, following a period of inadequacy between resources and population, made of the demographic issue a priority one more time.
A first demographic policy was implemented in 1962 in order to delay the age of wedding and to limit the number of children to 2 or 3. It began to be efficient in the cities, but was aborted by the cultural revolution in 1968, before it spread in the countryside. Nonetheless, it announced the mainlines of the “wan-xi-shao” policy of the early seventies, which was a milestone concerning the demographic future of the country.
With the beginning of the demographic transition that reactivated malthusian fears, the Chinese government decreed three orders for the following decade, entitled the “wan-xi-shao” policy. The population was asked to get married later, in order to reduce the fertility period of a couple, to space out births to