In 1979, China imposed a strict family planning policy that prohibited urban married couples from having more than one child. It was a drastic, yet (arguably) necessary measure to slow population growth and protect social, economic and environmental conditions in China. but now it appears that this policy has become outdated, and even detrimental to the Chinese society.
An article in The Economic Observer (via Worldcrunch) states that “the fertility rate and population growth have dropped significantly. According to China’s 2010 national census, the total fertility rate has dropped to 1.22 (from around 3 in 1980). This is considerably lower than the 2.1 regeneration rate needed to stabilize the population from generation to generation.”
The article goes on to point out that “The longstanding one-child policy has also created a sex ratio distortion. Traditional ideas about the importance of having a son and the modern technical possibility of gender-selective abortion have created a ratio of girls to boys of 100 to 118. This disparity means that millions of young men will grow up with little chance of finding a wife.”
The social and economic implications of the policy are becoming clear. China’s quickly aging population will soon need the youngest generation to care for them. And with only one child per family to bare the burdens of two generations before him, the financial and emotional stress could become overwhelming, even debilitating.
Wealth has played a significant a role in who gets to defy China’s one child policy. The article states that “the rich can either afford to pay the penalties and fines incurred for violating the policy – or go to places like the United States or Hong Kong to have their “additional” baby. In certain rural towns, powerful rich families simply ignore the Family Planning Policy.”
Couples making an average salary could never afford to incur these kinds of “arrangements”, nor could they pay the fines for violating the law, which can be anywhere from three to ten times their annual salary. The same injustices occur in rural China where medium income and poor families often have their homes destroyed and their livestock taken for violating the law. In some instances, women have even been forced to have an abortion.
As with any government initiative that requires its own bureaucracy, corruption is to be expected. There is no question that China’s one child policy has made a lot of money ““ legitimately and not — for the government. The National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) has collected approximately $0.3 trillion since 1980 in social support payments.
The author of the article, Zhang Hong, sums up why he believes the policy has become just another way for the government to fill its pockets rather than protect the social, economic and environmental conditions of the country:
“Unfortunately, a big chunk of this money has flowed into the pockets of local family planning officials. Because of “economic incentives”, some officials in fact deliberately allowed some women to have more than one child in order to boost their income. In short, this ridiculous policy has turned into a large bureaucratic system rife with corruption and abuse of power. What’s the benefit to society?”
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