Now approaching its 30-year anniversary, China's one-child policy has been in effect since 1979, when it was introduced by Deng Xiaoping. It was a policy that was originally intended to be a short-term solution to an exploding population in the late 1970's. Designed to last a single generation, the whole policy thrust was that population control was a precondition for economic growth. One of the most negative, unintended outcomes of this one-child policy has been an extreme gender imbalance, resulting in calls to abolish the whole policy as academics and older generations voice concern for China's future. The combination of a traditional preference for boys and easily accessible technology for sex-selective abortions has resulted in an average gender ratio of 118 males born to every 100 females, with some regions reaching 130 to 140 boys per 100 girls. Even in the 1990's people sounded alarm bells by suggesting that the implications for sex ratios and rural families would mean that if current trends of the skewed sex ratio (118.5 males per 100 females in 1992) continue, by the turn of the century there would be 100 million males not able to find partners. The consequences of the one-child policy and gender imbalance are numerous and include: female infanticide (more of a problem from the past), a burgeoning business for sex trafficking, forced and arranged marriages, a large number of Chinese bachelors unable to find partners, and smaller families in general having to support an aging population. The paper will explore all these issues and will then analyze the connection between the gender imbalance-one-child policy issue interconnected with labour market and demographic issues. Finally, the work will explore the prospects for policy change, especially in light of cultural attitudes and current trends. In truth, while initially meant to contain population growth and help spur economic development and higher living standards, the one-child policy has outlived its usefulness and has led to a gender imbalance which can only be corrected with new policy initiatives combined with changing attitudes about girls amongst couples.
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[...] The solution will come only with a change in attitudes toward female offspring.” What is promising is that the consequence of a population boom in China if the one-child policy is scrapped will likely be substantially mitigated by changing attitudes amongst both men and women, and especially those in China's growing middle and upper classes. Like their counterparts in the West, many affluent and urban Chinese couples prefer one child, a sign that attitudes are changing as people move up the prosperity ladder. However, the evidence is conflicting with other Chinese scholars suggesting that most city district Chinese women “would prefer more children yet comply with the one-child policy because they accept the moral legitimacy of state policy.” Some policy wonks advocate a straightforward new policy which would officially permit all couples rural and urban to have two children - but only two children, and with at least five years between them. It is predicted that this “option would give a fertility rate of 1.72 in the years 2000- 2025 and would be acceptable to most people.” Obviously, there are a number of alternatives that would perform better than the current haphazard system, which is still hugely unpopular, difficult to enforce on many levels, and has the least effect for the more affluent population. [...]
[...] Chang, Ming. P.12. Chang, Ming. P.12. Chang, Ming. P.12. Chang, Ming. P.12. Evans, Harriet. The Little Emperor Grows Selfish: The One-Child Policy Was to Benefit the Nation, but It Has Also Spawned Uncivil Individualism. New Statesman. Volume 134, Issue 4719-20. January P White, Tyrene. China's Longest Campaign: Birth Planning in the People's Republic, 1949-2005. [...]
[...] A revolution in family life: the political and social structural impact of China's one child policy. Journal of Social Issues Fall 51-69. Therese Hesketh, Li Lu, and Zhu Wei Xing. The Effect of China's One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years. The New England Journal of Medicine. Volume 353 (1171-1176). September Therese Hesketh, Wei Xing Zhu. The one child family policy: the good, the bad, and the ugly. BMJ. No Volume 314. Saturday 7 June 1997. (895- 904). White, Tyrene. China's Longest Campaign: Birth Planning in the People's Republic, 1949-2005. [...]
[...] This gender imbalance resulting from the one-child policy obviously does not come by accident, given the Chinese preference for boys. This is routed in a number of traditions as well as practical reasons: extra hands for labour and farm work, elderly parents expecting males to take care of them and to pass on the family name in the future, and economic reasons, such as the traditional Chinese inheritance law which dictates that sons inherit property. The whole one-child policy has been controversial from the beginning, and today, the policy has become “divisive, owing to a complex set of exemptions, enforcement inconsistencies and financial penalties, which allow some people to have larger families than others.” A far more sinister side of the policy has been the millions of forced sterilizations and abortions, often arbitrarily imposed on various segments of the Chinese population. Additionally, there have been many accounts of infanticide, not to mention stories of the murder of birth planning officials. Observed “excess female mortality at young ages has been on the rise ever since the implementation of the one-child policy.” The difference between the observed and expected female-to-male infant mortality ratio increased from around 10 percent in the late 1970s to as high as 60 percent in the mid-1990s. Moreover, female excess mortality is not confined to infants, but extends to children 1-4 years old as well. This injustice is the “most glaring form of inequality females experience in China and can be attributed partly to the country's birth control policy.” There are a number of additional consequences as a result of the one-child policy. [...]
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