China is not only populous but represents 20% of the entire world population (Hao 166). Bearing this in mind we can certainly say that out of every five people inhabiting the world one is a Chinese. As massive as it sounds, it could have been worse if the one child policy was not put to effect in the year 1979 (Kane). Though it offers security and plays a trick on the theory of majority power it becomes difficult to contain a large population after some time especially if it continually keeps increasing. A large population is not only hard to govern but also challenging to sustain economically.
History of policy
Chinese increased population can be related to events that followed in 1950 on becoming People’s Republic of China (Hao). Mao Tse-tung felt that there was need for population increase as route to political and economic recovery thus urged people to have more children. There was need for protection and more labor suppliers who would come from a large population. By 1957, there was a noted population increase and Mao Zedong stated that the population at 600m should be maintained in the future (Kane). Following that the leaders started developing ways to reduce the overgrowing population. One way they would achieve this was through long term planning and strategizing means of population control. By 1958 laws on birth control got underway. The efforts were however slowed down as a result of 1959–1961 famine (Ross 70). The famine was largely as a result of the uncontained number causing strain in the economy. After recovery the government embarked on their plan to campaign against high birth rates. Some of the strategies they employed were production of contraceptives, use of IUD’s, media campaigns on family planning and low birth rates, vasectomies as well as late marriages (Kane). The latter years marked significant decline in the population of Chinese people and fertility rates.
Implementing the one child policy did not come as a shock to but greatly impacted the world as it holds an estimated quarter of the entire world population. For a start the policy was to serve as a short term goal towards building the culture of a small family and eventually decrease the population. One thing the Chinese government did not realize is that it would have adverse effects and end up having long term effects on the population.
The process of reducing population growth in China started many years before the 1979 renowned program. By 1958 laws on how to reduce birth rates were already underway. After Cultural Revolution there was an urgent need to recover from the economic stagnation. This would not only place China amongst the best countries and most competitive world economies as well as increase its financial stability. About 7% of the population in the world was covered by China, most of who were youth below 30 years of age (Ross 66). It was also a time that 1950 and 60’s baby boomers were approaching their productive years. In order to recover economically, containing the population was a must. The one child policy was introduced to enhance planning for the future and make the living standards of citizens better.
It was a policy that contained laws regulating the expected family size. The family which is a core unit in the society was focused on as a factor that would enhance growth of population relentlessly. There was need to regulate childbearing tendencies, encourage late marriage and spacing of children when the exception of a second child is permitted. The one child policy though effective would not apply to the entire population in China. It would focus on the urban centers and those employed in the government. The only time that they would be allowed to have a second child is if the first child suffers disability, or the parents are the only one child in their family. The other option would be permitted to parents whose occupations are life threatening. Those living in the rural areas are allowed to have a second child incase the first child is a girl. Being a traditional country China highly holds its cultural beliefs and the esteem of a male child is imperative. The belief that they will carry the family name makes male children more valuable. The fact that the larger populations of china inhabit the rural areas having an approximated 70% population is also another reason for policy exceptions as compared to the urban population (Kane). As you go deeper into the minority tribes however you find that a third child is allowed due to under population in the areas. The policy works effectively and those failing to adhere to it suffer heavy penalties. In some cases those who comply with the set law receive economic support, while those who disobey risk confiscation of their belongings, fines as well as losing their job opportunities.
For the policy to work out effectively measures such as compulsory use of contraceptives are expected. Alternatively those who conceive are expected to abort so as to abide to the given law. Contraceptives are used by 87% of married women, by 1980’s most of them preferred the long term use of IUD which accounted for an approximated 90% of the given contraceptives (Kane). Sterilization was also another option used. The following years did not specify a given type of favored contraceptives as the women followed the advice they received from health workers.
It is advisable however to use long term contraceptives which prevents rising rates of abortions. Reported cases of abortion occur when women fail to use suitable methods of contraception. Use of long term family planning reduces abortion cases in China as compared to other states. Statistics have reported that as compared to abortions taking place in the US china reports a lower percentage, while China has 25% US has 43% (XinQi Dong & Melissa 85). The women who go against the one child policy by conceiving unknowingly are forced to risk their lives and their babies. This happens during delivering at home so as to avoid being fined or condemned by the law. The delivery in absence of trained personnel only increases the mortality rates of maternal and neonatal cases. In 1990 a report on rural home deliveries indicated that there was a double increase in death mortality of women delivering at home as compared to those following government sanctions (Hao 170).
After the increased population growth the policy targeted to contain its population by 2000 at 1.2b. Following a conducted census report in the same year there were 1.27b people not too far from the target set. Further reports from higher authority indicated satisfaction in progressive results of the policy having controlled about 250-300m births successfully (XinQi Dong & Melissa 85). There was a marked fertility rate decline from 2.9 in 1979 -1.7-2004 (Hao 178). This means that the number of children born by each woman have drastically decreased. The varying urban and rural populations were significantly noted to decline. There was a 1.3 and 2.0 decline respectively (XinQi Dong & Melissa 89). This shaped up the trend demographically as the policy became a one child trend in the urban and two in the rural respectively. The policy can be credited highly for decline in fertility rates while the former years are also responsible for its prevalence too.
The Sex Ratio
There has been a noted effect on the sex ratio following the policy. The term sex ratio refers to the number of female and male children born alive. Since the one child policy was put to effect, an increased sex ratio report has bee noted. They have tremendously risen from 1.06, 1.11, 1.17, in 1979, 1988, 2001 respectively (Kane). The factor of sex ratio mostly affects rural parts of China where a second child is an option. If the second child expected is a female the couple is allowed to terminate the pregnancy and give them another chance to get a male child in the future. In the urban centers there is sex selection making attempts to have a male child more successful. The preference for male children has led to some areas having increased numbers of male births which are a risky trend for the future. Fewer females in the societies mean that the future of the society is bleak. Gender ratio imbalance termed as bachelor army is an emerging factor where men are unable to find partners leading to prostitution and sex trafficking (Ross 68).
Future of the policy
Following the policy implementation China has to some extent achieved its set goals. The reduction of population which was a troubling thought has been achieved successfully. The policy however greatly affects the right to life and reproduction evoking several debates. The Chinese population has not stopped increasing though at a slower rate of about 10m people annually (Hanneberger). Social factors have to be employed externally to achieve the goal fully. Women who have ability to impact fertility rates should be willing to adhere to the set law. This has in the recent past brought encouraging results, as a reproductive survey indicates 57% of women preferred having one child varying in the rural and urban areas (Hanneberger).
There is need to implement new policies as well as examine the effectiveness of the past policies. Those that were effective in the past years may not be useful to China now. It has undergone massive transformations, economically and socially placing it amongst the largest economies of the entire world. Increased wealth has made families stable and the need to have more children vital. Lobbying groups and human rights activists may also be a threat to the policy since they value human life and have a regard for its preservation. Globalization and new trend are leading to shift in focus and will out do misguided policies in due time.
For the financially unstable people the policy is timely. The government has set up measures to help stop rapid spread of child birth and sustenance which is costly. To alleviate poverty they provide free medical costs and provide family planning as a remedy for controlling birth rates.
By mid 2008 China was home to 1.3 M people making it still the worlds most populous. Though it has slowly gone down on population growth rates, it is estimated that the next two decades will lead to its peak growth then a marked drop. Following this statistics, Kane asserts India which is the worlds second most populous to continue increasing and by 2040 hold an estimated 1.52b making it the most populous while China holds 1.45b.
Henneberger, S. China’s One-Child Policy. 2007
Henneberger’s article on Chinese one child policy offers insight to issues crucial to the ratio of male and female children born. It keenly analyzes the future consequences of this course of action as well as the adverse effects ahead. It gives an honest opinion on how the one child policy has brought out gender controversy. He further explains how the one child policy is controversial as well as effective. The preference by tradition for the male child and how women are taking extreme measures to get rid of pregnancies so as to have another chance to give birth to male children. In regions where the second child is allowed women who discover they are expecting another female child go to the extremes of aborting the female child in an effort to have a male child. The preference for a male child who will carry the family name is high making the female child inferior. He takes a humorous approach on key family issues and increased levels of education since the implementation of the policy.
The article fails to explain the severe consequences that bias towards the female child has brought. Secondi however, expounds on the consequences clearly.