The Aftermath Of China’s 40-Year Old One-Child Policy


As a population control policy, the Chinese government legally restricted the birth of children in families to one.

After 40 long years of the one-child policy, the government adjusted the mandate to a 2-child policy. The delicate nature of the one-child policy aftermath prompted the urgency to do so.

There has been no concrete demographic fact that the policy helped the nation to manage their population. However, the government says that about 400 million births were controlled.

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China has an over 1.3 billion population according to the national 2010 census. The policy which was endorsed in the late 70’s was recently amended to control a pending demographic challenge. The one-child policy aftermath seems to be hatching a demographic time bomb in China.

History of the one-child policy:

During the time of Mao Zang, the mortality rate in China was very low. Thus the government urged the people to have as much children as they can. In the 1960’s, the breed as you wish policy became a problem and the government once again legally mandated the people to have only one child.

This was to manage the population with sensitive regards to the economy and wealth distribution. Families that failed to comply faced fine sanctions, sterilizations, and abortions.

Aftermath of one-child Policy: 

The government however made an exception. About 53% were allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl (Wikipedia). As a result of this, there seems to be an imbalance in China’s population. The gender balance seems to be one-sided’. Same also for their age-categories. Thus the government has loosened up the policy this year to accommodate 2 children.

“The reason China is doing this right now is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a result of the one-child policy. And if people don’t start having more children, they’re going to have a vastly diminished workforce to support a huge aging population.”- Mei Fong

Adding to this demographic crisis was a United Nations’ projection that China will lose 67 million working-age people by 2030. Another study by Cai Fang says that one-third of the country will be aged 60 years or older by 2050. So there will be a mass drop in government workforce. A chunk of people will retire at once with insufficient replacements.

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On a general note, concerned professionals have arrived at the fact that the idea of infringing on people’s freedom of procreation might be a plan in futility. This is because the fertility rate of the global population at the moment is lower than it used to be.

“Couples naturally decide to have fewer children as they move from the fields into the cities, become more educated, and when women establish careers outside the home.”– CNN

With the imbalance in gender ratio, age-groups and the potential labor deficit, experts have assessed the one-child policy aftermath. They say that the one-child policy may have worked too well but the reversal is too little too late.