One child policy in China was formulated in 1979 and took effect on the same year. Officially known as the ‘family planning policy’, one child policy requires couples who stay in urban areas to have only one child. This restriction does not, however, extend to persons who live in the rural areas of China. Other exceptions to the one child policy include persons who are from ethnic minorities as well as twins. Recent research indicates that as at 2010, approximately thirty six percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas and were thus subject to the one child policy. It is instructive to note that Hong Kong and Macau which are special administrative regions of the Peoples’ Republic of China are exempted from the one child policy rule. Foreigners who are live in China are also not subject to the rule. The policy was initially formulated with the aim of ultimately reducing or even eliminating various challenges that China faced. These included socio-economic and environmental problems. In other words, the regime at the time was concerned that China’s runaway population growth would stifle growth in other spheres such as the economy. This was because China was already a country with a high population whose needs it could not adequately cater for. Thus, the regime identified the one child policy as one the useful measures that would go long a way in containing China’s population growth and in the process allow room for development in other spheres of the Chinese society.
Opinion is divided as to the success of China’s one child policy. Indeed, scholars have advanced arguments both in support of and against the one child policy. Some of the arguments that have been advanced against the one child policy include the fact that it has led to human rights violations as it restricts a couple’s right to exercise their freedom of choice as far determining the optimum size of their family is concerned. Another argument that has been advanced against the one child policy is that it has led to an increase in the number of abortions and infanticides. The increase in the number of abortions has been significantly attributable to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies where the couples already had one child and were thus barred by the policy from having a second child. Such couples resorted to abortion so as not to face the sanctions that would have arisen as a result of the violation of the policy. Infanticide, as the name suggests, refers to the crime of killing an infant. Scholars have argued that the one child policy contributed to increased cases of infanticide in China. This is because as research as shown, there is preference for the boy child in the Chinese society. Thus, with only one attempt at getting a boy child, couples who instead got a girl at times resorted to killing the girl. This would avail them an opportunity to try and get a boy and still remain within the purview of the one child policy. The above highlighted examples are among some of the arguments that have been advanced against China’s one child policy. There are equally positive aspects of the one child policy restriction. Indeed, this submission contends that a juxtaposition of the advantages and disadvantages of the one child policy which is accompanied by a careful analysis of the arguments put forth in either side will reveal that its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. Succeeding sections of this submission will seek to illustrate this point by highlighting arguments that have been advanced in support of the one child policy in China. The submission is thus generally in support of the one child policy rule.
One of the arguments that has been advanced in support of the one child policy is that it has helped to contain population growth in China. Government authorities and independent scholars have differed on the exact number of births that have been prevented as a result of the one child policy. While government figures put the figure at over 400 million births between the years 1979 to 2011, independent scholars quote a much lower figure of 100 million births. However, it must not be lost that the common strand that runs along both the position advanced by the independent scholars and the government authorities in China is that the one child policy has gone a significant deal in reducing the number of births in China. In essence, it has been an efficient tool in controlling population growth in urban centers in China. This has in turn enabled better planning in these urban centers as the authorities are able to forecast the population growth and plan accordingly. Amenities in such areas are also not overstretched as is the case in other countries with large populations that did not take decisive measures such as the one child policy in order to contain population growth.
China is one of the countries that have experienced phenomenal economic growth over the past thirty years. Indeed, some scholars and economists have argued that it will overtake the United States in the next couple of years to become the most significant economy in the world. Research has shown that there is a correlation between China’s economic growth over the years and the one child policy rule. According to the research, countries that have high birth rate tend to have slower economic growth while countries that have a low birth rate tend to have a higher economic growth. China’s one child policy led to reduction in the birth rate from 2.63 births per woman in 1980 to 1.61 births per woman in 2009. The reasons that have been attributed to higher economic growth as a result of the one child policy include the fact that the lower birth rates have led to higher levels of schooling per child and the fact that by having fewer children, parents are able to spend more of their time providing labour and thus generating revenue and income. Perhaps a more clear illustration of the effect of the one child policy on economic growth could be attained by making a juxtaposition of India and China. Both India and China are members of the BRICS, countries which are touted to be the next global economic powers as a result of the high growth rates of their economies. While both China and India have high populations, China has been able to consistently attain higher economic growth rates than India. One of the differences between the two countries that has contributed to China’s relatively better economic performance is the fact that China, through the one child policy, adopted measures to control population growth. India did not adopt such measures and although it continues to register economic growth, such growth is not in the same range as that which is experienced in China. This is a clear illustration of the effect of containing population growth on positive economic growth.
One of the remarkable achievements of the one child policy is that it has helped to prevent overpopulation in China. As indicated in earlier sections of this submission, China is already country with a high population, thus, compared with other countries which have a smaller population; it stands a great risk of being over populated. The one child policy has come in hand to prevent population and all its attendant challenges. As various scholars have rightly argued, challenges that accompany overpopulation in any given country have gravely detrimental effects to the well-being of such a country. Apart from being a serious impediment to economic growth, overpopulation is associated with such challenges as epidemics, poor housing conditions characterized by the mushrooming of slums, overstretching of social services and pressure on the environment due to reduced land that is available for use per person. While China faces some of these problems, the one child policy has significantly aided in reducing their magnitude. Subsequently, people have a better quality of life. This is arguably better than situations where there is high population but the citizens have a low quality of life. It is clear that the one child policy has benefitted both the state and the individual citizen. The state is able to plan better and implement such plans while the individual is able to live a much more comfortable life.
In conclusion, this submission contends that although controversial, the one child policy has proved its worth over time. Adoption of the policy was step in the right direction.
Hesketh, Therese, Li Lu and Zhu Wei Xing. "The Effect of China's One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years." New England Journal of Medicine (2010): 1171-1176.
Putten, Jann Chrsitoph von der. Moral Issues and Concerns about China's One-Child Policy. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2010.
Rosenzweig, Mark R. "Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's “One-Child” Policy." The Review of Economic Studies (2009): 1149-1174.