China’s 1-child policy: what was it and what impact did it have?

What was China’s one-child policy?

China’s one-child policy was introduced because the population had increased to 969 million. The policy restricted most couples to only one child. Authorities argued it was important in supporting the country’s economic boom.

Anyone who disobeyed faced fines or forced abortions. People risked losing their jobs if they had more than one child.

Second children could not be registered in the national household system, so they did not exist legally. They had no access to social services like health care and education.

Chinese society has a social preference for boys, so many female babies were killed.

There were exceptions. Rural families were allowed two children if the first was a girl. Ethnic minorities were also allowed a second child. Urban couples were allowed to have a second child if the parents were both only children.

When did China’s one-child policy end?

China officially ended its one-child policy in 2016, because China was dealing with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. A new law allowed families to have two children.

In 2017, President Xi Jinping said China would promote “the coordination of childbirth policies with other economic and social policies.”

Why did China decide to allow families to have three children?

China’s 2020 census showed that Chinese mothers gave birth to just 12 million babies in 2020, down from 14.65 million in 2019. In response, Beijing began to allow each couple to have three children.

In 2020, China’s fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman, below the replacement level of 2.1 needed for a stable population. As the overall population continued to grow to 1.412 billion, the working aged population fell and the elderly population increased.

What is the outlook for China’s birth rate?

Young Chinese limit their family size due to factors like lack of affordable childcare, rising living costs, and long work hours.

An expert on China’s demographics expects the population to start to fall in 2022 as the number of births drops to nearly 10 million and the number of deaths surpasses 10 million.

Source: China’s 1-child policy: what was it and what impact did it have?
© South China Morning Post

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