One Child at a time: The Effects of China's One-Child Policy

Topics: One-child policy, Pension, Only child Pages: 6 (1817 words) Published: November 5, 2013
Over time the human population has witnessed and endured the effects of many different policies and laws. Some of these laws have proven to be beneficial, while others have caused significant emotional and economical damage. China's One-Child Policy inducted in 1979, is one of those damaging policies which has dramatically altered China's economic well-being while emotionally scaring most if not all of China's families. Planning for a family, caring for the elderly and prejudice against females are all associated with the One-Child Policy.

When thinking about starting a family in Canada, there are no limitations. The biggest concern parents have is simply the health of the new born not the sex of the newborn. Parents may have hopes for a boy or a girl, but in the end they are genuinely happy as long as their newborn child is healthy. According to Naughton (2007) in China, “boys are culturally and materially more valuable...than girls”(p. 171). This scenario, still seen in China today is due to the One-Child Policy. A policy that dictates, families are only allowed one child. Chinese parents have pressured themselves as there is a wanting desire for their one child to be male. The birth of a male will allow the family name to be carried on for at least the next generation. “The traditional cultural preference for boys is sustained by the marriage system” (Naughton, 2007, p. 171). The widespread wanting of that first and essentially only child to be male,has led to an abnormal ratio of boys to girls in China, compared to the rest of the world.

For society to run the way we are accustomed to, there needs to be a balance of males and females. With the active One-Child Policy and parents want of a male, the gender imbalance continues to grow. “In 2000, the gender imbalance reached 116 males to 100 females, up sharply from the 1990 census, when the imbalance was 111 to 100” (England, 2005 p. 24-25). With this irregular ratio comes the question of where are are the missing girls to achieve the necessary balance? When looking at the raw data, it becomes apparent that as the number of children increase the gender imbalance ratio increases. Under the One-Child Policy, there are certain exemptions that will allow families to try for a second child, one of those exemptions being if the first born was a girl. According to England (2005), “the gender ration is 107:100 for the first child, but it is 152:100 for the second child and 160:100 for the third child”.(p. 125) Families that do not qualify for a second attempt to try for a boy resort to other options, including not reporting the birth of a child or even aborting the pregnancy. This has led to an even larger ratio of males to females. Not abiding to the One-Child policy and having more than one child when you do not meet the exemption criteria can be costly.

Having a child in China puts a heavy financial burden on the family. It is important for families to plan when deciding to have a child. Aside from having to raise and support a new member of the family, families must request approval from the government prior to going through with the pregnancy and eventually the birth. According to Doherty, Norton and Veney (2001) “In addition to facing the full cost of obstetric services... families in some regions were fined when a pregnancy was found to be unapproved... These fines... were substantial and typically were 10%-20% of a families annual income.” (p. 745)

The fines are in place as a means to deter families from having multiple children. The amount of money families are forced to pay for non-approved children is substantial and can leave the family with little income to survive on for the remainder of the year. Not only does the government impose a fine on unapproved children, the community also punishes the family. Those being forced to wait for children in order to keep the annual birthrate low may resend the family for their actions....

Cited: Doherty, J., Norton,E., and Veney,J. (2001). China 's One-Child Policy: The Economic Choices and Consequences Forced by Pregnant Women. Social Science and Medicine, 52 (2001), 745-750. doi:
England, R. (2005). Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China 's Economic Prospects.
(Vol. 182, pp. 21-30). United States of America: Draeger Publishers
Keng, E. (1997). Population Control Through the One-Child Policy; it 's effects on women. Hein online, 18(2), 205-213
Naughton, B. (2007) The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth. (pp. 161-177)
London, England: The MIT Press
Zhang, Y., and Goza, F. (2005). Who Will Care for the Elderly in China? A review of the problems caused by China 's One-Child Policy and their potential solutions, Journal of Aging Studies, 20 (2006), 151-164.
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