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Topics: One-child policy, Only child, Family Pages: 6 (1557 words) Published: November 12, 2013
N O R T H

A S I A

THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF CHINA’S ONE-CHILD POLICY
XUEFENG CHEN

A

s family is important to the socialization of children, it plays an important role in the development of children’s intellect and personality. In order to
control the country’s population, the People’s Republic of China has implemented the one child’s policy for the last
two decade. Today, over 90% of all urban children, and
over 60% of rural children have no brothers or sisters. What

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Harvard Asia Pacific Review

is the effect of this historically rare policy? Researchers
and citizens from both the East and the West have been
concerned with this issue. In China, many news-reports
have expressed the worry that single-child families would
produce self-centered “little emperors” and “empresses.” Theoretically, this concern is both reasonable and probable. However, at this point, such speculations have not

of their children, they would make a greater effort to mainbeen supported by any substantial evidence in research. Western scholars Toni Falbo and Denis F. Polit (1986) tain good relations and be more supportive toward their have noted the three discrete discrepancies between only- children’s personal and academic endeavors. Researchers children and children with siblings. First, children with at China’s Center for Children Development showed in siblings often exchange amongst each other their respec- the 1980’s that parents of only-children, on the whole, tive academic and social experiences – an advantage that have a higher level of expectation for their children’s casingle-children lack. Second, single-children tend to be reer and academic achievements. Mercy and Steelman dominated more by self-seeking instincts, commanding (1982) have also reported that only-children spend more more attention in their individual homes. Third, because time with their parents than do non-only children. Lewis parents tend to treat their single-child the way standard and Feiring (1982) have also found that single-children are parents treat their first-born (with more vigilance and care more inclined to communicate with their parents, often due to inexperience), single-children will generally be more with greater confidence and versatility in their conversations. Such examples would no doubt impact the nature reliant on their parents and less independent.

The question this article addresses is: does the impact and pattern of a child’s development and maturation, for of the three above-listed differences really make China’s better or worse. There are some in China who believe that the installonly-children a selfish and socially-awkward generation? Falbo and Polit have performed 115 single-children ment of the Single-Child Policy could generate discontent related experiments. They have found that the only-chil- and anxiety for families with multiple children (Falbo & dren in China have also exhibited positive attributes. Com- Preston, 1993; Yang et al., 1995). Such discontent, in turn, pared to children with siblings of the same age, Chinese could lead to negative consequences of the balanced status-quo. Yet there is yet to be any single-children have shown superior

proof that such families are wideoverall academic performance. What There are some in China who spread in China. There are even those, is more, Chen, Rubin, and Li (1995)
have shown that there is actually very
believe that the installment of like Chinese scholar Li Fenhua, who argued that little intrinsic differences
little disparity in the intrinsic nature of
the Single-Child Policy could
social skills between only-children and
generate discontent and anxiety exist between the childrearing nature of only-children families and non-only
non-only-children. In fact, due to the
for families with multiple
children families. Rather, it is the eduoverwhelming attention they receive at children. Such discontent, in
cational background of the parents
home, some...
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