One-child policy in China: Pros and Cons

28 Aug

Make China rich and powerful, Make the ethnic groups prosporous and thriving, Make the population controlled (one-child policy)

Last June a case in which a 23-year old Chinese girl called Feng Jiamei, from Shaanxi province, was forced into abortion in the seventh month of pregnancy -even when Chinese law clearly prohibits abortions beyond six months- opened the pandora box in China, and outside the country. The baby was killed while still in the womb by an injection arranged by local family-planning officials.

After the event took place the Shaanxi Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission said in an official statement:

“Such practice has seriously violated the relevant policies set by national and provincial family planning commissions, which harmed the image of our family planning work, and caused extremely poor effects in society,” said the statement. Based on the findings, we have requested the local government to punish the relevant officers according to law.”.

It was too late to apologize. Millions of messages from outraged people circulated on social networks in China when they realized about the news. Also prominent voices joined in the criticism. “The outrageous and violent forced- abortion incident in June is not unique to Shaanxi”, wrote Liang Jianzhang (chief executive of Ctrip, on of China’s most successful travel companies), on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Abolition of the absurd family-planning policy is the only way to root out this kind of evil,” he went on. Mr Liang’s post has been retweeted more than 18,000 times.

In 1983, 14 million women had abortions organised by family-planning committees (many of them coerced). In 2009, there were 6 million. The number has declined in recent years as local officials have more incentives to impose fines on extra births rather than prevent them altogether.

So does it make sense to undertake such a policy in current China? Here we break down some arguments why the one-child policy is defended and some of why is heavily criticized.

Arguments in favor of the one-child policy

Social problems alleviation: this policy was introduced in 1978 and initially applied to first-born children from 1979. It was created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, and authorities claim that the policy has prevented more than 250 million births between 1980 and 2000, and 400 million births from about 1979 to 2011.

Lower the fertility rate: After the introduction of the one-child policy, the fertility rate in China fell from 2.63 births per woman in 1980 (already a sharp reduction from more than five births per woman in the early 1970s) to 1.61 in 2009. However, the policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate.

Poverty eradication: In China’s poor areas, economic and cultural backwardness and too many births often interact as both cause and effect. The Chinese government has taken a step in giving support to the development of poor areas to alleviate poverty by promoting family planning, holding population growth under control, and raising the life quality of the population in those areas.

Public support: a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy.

Arguments against the one-child policy (text taken from Wikipedia)

Other available policy alternatives: One type of criticism has come from those who acknowledge the challenges stemming from China’s high population growth but believe that less intrusive options, including those that emphasized delay and spacing of births, could have achieved the same results over an extended period of time. Some critics stress that some of these alternatives were known but not fully considered by China’s political leaders.

Policy benefits exagerated: Another criticism is that the claimed effects of the policy on the reduction in the total fertility rate are exaggerated. Studies by Chinese demographers, funded in part by the UN Fund for Population Activities, showed that combining poverty alleviation and health care with relaxed targets for family planning was more effective at reducing fertility than vigorous enforcement of very ambitious fertility reduction targets.

Human rights violation and forced abortions: The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice for violating a human right to determine the size of one’s own family. According to a 1968 proclamation of the International Conference on Human Rights, “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.” In 2002, China outlawed the use of physical force to make a woman submit to an abortion or sterilization, but it is not entirely enforced. In the execution of the policy, many local governments still demand abortions if the pregnancy violates local regulations, or even force abortions on women violating the policy, such as Feng Jianmei’s case.

The “four-two-one” problem: As the first generation of law-enforced only-children came of age for becoming parents themselves, one adult child was left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. Called the “4-2-1 Problem”, this leaves the older generations with increased chances of dependency on retirement funds or charity in order to receive support. If personal savings, pensions, or state welfare fail, most senior citizens would be left entirely dependent upon their very small family or neighbours for assistance.

Possible social problems for a generation of only children: Some parents may over-indulge their only child. The media referred to the indulged children in one-child families as “little emperors”. Since the 1990s, some people have worried that this will result in a higher tendency toward poor social communication and cooperation skills among the new generation, as they have no siblings at home. No social studies have investigated the ratio of these over-indulged children and to what extent they are indulged. With the first generation of children born under the policy reaching adulthood, such worries were reduced.

Unequal enforcement: Government officials and especially wealthy individuals have often been able to violate the policy in spite of fines. For example, between 2000 and 2005, as many as 1,968 officials in central China’s Hunan province were found to be violating the policy, according to the provincial family planning commission; also exposed by the commission were 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and 6 senior intellectuals. Some of the offending officials did not face penalties, although the government did respond by raising fines and calling on local officials to “expose the celebrities and high-income people who violate the family planning policy and have more than one child.”

Birth tourism: A way to escape the strict rules of the one-child policy is for Chinese women to give birth to their second child overseas. A favourite destination was Hong Kong. Hong Kong is exempt from the one-child policy and the Hong Kong passport, which is different from a China mainland passport, provides additional advantages. Recently though, the Hong Kong government has drastically reduced the quota of births set for non-local women in public hospitals. As a result fees for delivering babies there have surged.

UPDATE (Dec, 2013): Chinese government has announced changes to ease the One-child policy which will allow more parents to have a second child, starting the roll out early 2014, according to state media.

For further information:

Chinese academics urge end to one-child policy

China one-child policy leads to forced abortions, mothers’ deaths

The one-child policy: The brutal truth

42 Responses to “One-child policy in China: Pros and Cons”

  1. Jennifer January 5, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    The arguments in favor Social problems alleviation: is directly copied from wikpedia…..

    • Jennifer January 5, 2013 at 12:09 am # this is the link

    • Nicholas March 1, 2013 at 6:23 am #

      maybe wikipedia copied it from here!!

      • ... October 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

        God you’re hilarious

      • FALCRON February 2, 2014 at 5:49 am #

        Wikipedia is a shared sight so its possible some douche bag could of copied this to wikipedia

    • Jadah December 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      yea it kinda says text copied from Wikipedia….

    • loki February 17, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

      it may be so

  2. admin January 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Correct Jennifer. It was copied from Wikipedia. Apologies for that if I didn’t mention it from the very beginning. I will mention it on the article to make it clear and comply with their Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

    • Billy Bob Joe January 31, 2013 at 1:54 am #

      Itz ok this is a really good sitw though

    • Derek Landy March 28, 2013 at 2:26 am #

      “Apologies for that” ???? is that all u can say?? uve literally copied every single word from a dead-famous site. jealous, were u?? i despise stupid freaks like u, who set up a site and then copy from another. btw, i hope u realise this is copyright- which is illegal!! taking the credit for someone else’s work- u cow. people are arrested for this sorta stuff. u know wat- iw as just about 2 like u on facebook n twitter n all that… im thoroughly disgusted, creep.

      • admin March 28, 2013 at 10:26 am #

        Hi Derek,

        Thanks for your comment. Take it easy. Wikipedia is runned under CC license so they allow you to copy their contents if you mention and link them back, which I did. Since I couldn’t find the author of the article/text I couldn’t mention him/her properly.

        In the beginning I didn’t mention the source and that was my mistake, now it is sorted and I made it clear.

      • Derek Landy October 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        Jesus derek you have to calm down and stop being a physcotic dumbass

      • Rachel January 24, 2014 at 12:22 am #

        Jealous of a site who claimed that Adolf hitler was the coach of the German football team. You refer to the writers as “stupid” and “freaks” from that comment I can tell that you are very educated insulting both disabilities and idiocy when they have created a site to help educate. Wikipedia don’t write any of their own information it is all done by the public so they will not be arrested and Wikipedia claim credit for someone else’s work and they pretty clearly said text taken from Wikipedia and naming them a cow that is pure genius. I’m sure they will be devastated not to have an amazing mind such as yours liking their page but if this disgusts you, you may want to stay away from something called life, creep.

      • aliciamclaughlin May 14, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

        your the freak dont be rude yu little btch yu can not judge some one else if you have not seen them !!!! i am very upset with yu! yu little racism creep!

        • Aspen Drake May 9, 2015 at 12:00 am #

          If you could show some manners to someone who has not insulted you, that would be appreciated. Thank you.

          • er October 25, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

            Thank you!I totally agree.

        • Amber December 8, 2015 at 12:01 am #

          Guys, there’s no need to go on and on about one mistake. Imagine if it was u, sayin’ something wrong or forgetting to say something, would your friends do the same to u? Thought not.

    • Noah January 21, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      How can you remember all of that license name?!?!?!?!?!

  3. Daphne I. November 14, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    I am a student competing in NHD and my subject is the Chinese one-child policy, I was hoping to ask you a few questions as a primary source for my group. I would appreciate your e-mail so that I can interview you. thank you for your time.


    • Jadah December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      I’m competing in NHD too!!

    • er October 25, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

      Hey! I’m doing this for NHD too!

  4. Vj December 13, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    I am also doing my NHD project on China’s one child policy. Great information, thanks.

    • Xiao December 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Cool, me too. Although since this is my first time doing NHD, and i’m not with a partner, I don’t think i will do very well. This site is a good source though.

  5. Hannah January 10, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    I am a 8th grader who is doing the One child policy as a history day topic. I was wondering if i could interview you to really learn someone’s opinion who lives in china about the one child policy.

    • admin January 10, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      Hi Hannah, I think it is more relevant to interview a Chinese person and not a foreigner. Recently the Chinese government eased the One-child policy in an attempt to be more flexible on this.

      • Hannah January 13, 2014 at 5:59 am #

        okay. Thanks though.

        • Hannah January 14, 2014 at 6:31 am #

          Do you know anybody I can interview about the one child policy? If so, could you give me an email or address so that I could contact them?

          • admin January 20, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

            If you want to contact or know anybody in China I suggest you download the QQ, which is the most widely used chat system in China. You will find many people interested in knowing foreigners. Here you are the url for their English site

    • Hannah Rathbun February 10, 2015 at 2:20 am #

      Hi Hannah I’m in 8th grade to and I think that killing a child just because of a law is absurd

  6. Noah January 19, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Hi, I was wondering what date this blog was published/last revised so i can properly fill out my source card in MLA format. If you could please reply to this with the date or how to get the date, that would be great. Thanks!


    • admin January 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

      The date of this blog entry is 28 August 2012!

      • Noah January 21, 2014 at 9:13 am #

        Thank You!

  7. Noah January 21, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Thank you so much for this blog! This was very informational and helped me out a lot. In fact, I got 1/2 of my information for my essay from this sight! And yes, I did check for plagiarism. Just wanted to say thanks again!

    • Noah January 21, 2014 at 10:28 am #


  8. May 24, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Hola!! Te importa que use algunas fotos de tu blog en el mío?
    No consigo fotografías que encajen para mi web y las tuyas están estupendas.


    • admin May 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      Hola Cetona, las puedes usar pero sólo si contactas al autor original haciendo click en las mismas.



  9. Isaac October 29, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    Y’all guys are so dum

    • KhajiitQueen January 17, 2015 at 3:25 am #

      All in favor say iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  10. Hannah Rathbun February 10, 2015 at 2:18 am #

    I’m thoroughly disgusted with all who think it is wright to abort a child

  11. Brandon April 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Ok it is ok I am gonna win score on the 40 30 20 10 touchdown!!!!

  12. Carmen Torres August 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    How does the one child law affect baby girls not being preferred by the Chinese. And now having a population of mostly entitled men.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. China’s One-Child Policy | Social Studies 11 - January 20, 2014

    […] that it was created by the Chinese government to help social, economic, and environmental problems (One-Child Policy Pros). Other pros are that it lowered the fertility rate, government could focus on helping poverty, and […]

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