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China's One Child Policy

The China’s one child policy came into implementation in 1979 when the government wanted to introduce market reforms that will revitalize and boost the economy. This policy affected not only the economic aspects but also sex ratio, population growth and the elderly to adult ratio in the whole country. These attempts resulted from social disruptions accompanied by Cultural Revolution which witnessed to economic stagnation necessitating a drastic measure to be employed. The local counties came up with family planning strategies to solve and remedy the situation. However, urban residents and government employees were the ones affected by one child policy. This policy was an exemption to rural residents who were allowed to have a second child but after five years provided the first child was a girl (Cecilia 1997).

The third child was highly restricted but allowed under minority consideration where a community lives in remote and under populated areas in propagation of minority communities. The policy was not easy to enforce but the government employed several measures to ensure compliance to the policy; these included loss of employment opportunities, substantial amount of fines and property confiscation. To ensure its efficiency, contraceptive and abortion options were made available to Chinese married women with 87 per cent fully reliance on these contraceptives (Vanesa 2006).

Due to reliance of contraceptive use, the abortion rate has reduced to 25 per cent even lower compared to other countries without the one child policy the USA which has a 43 per cent abortion rate. However, it’s worth noting that abortion is only procured under strict sanctions and advice of qualified and registered medical practitioner like a doctor in case of contraceptive failure or when the pregnancy is unwanted (Susan 2008).

Effect on sex ratio

The ratio of male to female live births has increased from 1.06 to 1.11 in 1979 and 1988 respectively.  This ratio increased to 1.17 in 2001 with much higher ratios witnessed in rural areas. This is evident with rural sex ratios hitting a higher figure of 1.05 compared to that of urban areas at a level of 1.13 for the Chinese first birth while the figure rises steadily for the subsequent births demonstrating the choice that urban Chinese make concerning sex. The increase of sex ratio in both rural and mostly urban areas is attributive to the sex selective of abortion that is carried out by Chinese women especially with their female babies in attempts to get a son. The non – registration of female children with attempts to have a registered son also increases this sex ratio in china. To propagate this practice, sex -selective abortion is prohibited in china especially for female children; nevertheless the practice still finds its way into the private sector especially with the help of burgeoning for financial benefits (Cecilia 1997).

The effects of this trend where males are preferred for birth in china reducing subsequently the number of females has its socio – cultural, political and economic implications which even the Chinese government has acknowledged. Some of these challenges posed by this policy in consideration of sex ratio include; mental health problems with social and gender imbalances, disruptive social behaviors among Chinese men, an alarming increase in the number of commercial sex workers, high rates of human female kidnapping and trafficking destined for china and purposed for marriage reasons. These are some of the common features that are associated with the one child policy especially among urban Chinese and government officials. For this reason, china has experienced an increased number of fresh infections of HIV infections which can also be attributed to these occurrences. Other sexually transmitted diseases have also been on the rise courtesy of one child policy. China’s increased population data that is skewed towards males may be explained to be a result of one child policy (Susan 2008).

Population growth

China’s fertility rate decreased from 2.9 to 1.7 in 1979 and 2004 respectively with urban areas representing a 1.3 while rural areas had 2.0. This demonstrated that it’s predominant adopted in china for urban families to have one child while rural families have two. The fertility rate is measured as the mean number of children or women. However, the voluntary policy of late or postponed child bearing had however reduced the fertility rate from 5.9 which was experienced in 1970s to a figure of 2.1 in 1979. This was possible when fewer children and larger space between children was advocated and practiced.  Therefore the one child policy reduced the growth rate in the overall population growth of china to a greater magnitude (Vanesa 2006).

Effect on ratio of old age dependency

The life expectancy in china coupled with decrease in fertility rate has witnessed and increasing number of elderly people and the ratio of elderly to that of the young people is on the rise at the same time. The proportion of young people as compared to that of the old is far much less than expected and the economy had to fight with the effects and consequences of an elderly population. This scenario posse a great danger to the country’s economy and the social economic strands advanced after the revolution. This situation has made nearly to 80 per cent of the parents depend on their children for provision. However, the Chinese government have introduced an elderly pension plans to reduce these dependence which was severe and an impediment to the economic growth and development of the country (Susan 2008).

This situation was dubbed 4:2:1 signifying the burden that was not only to the couples but also the economy at large. This meant that a couple consisting of two people were responsible for only one child that is their own and in addition of four parents from both sides a situation that not only stressed the productive group but also retarded and stagnated the economic growth and development. This burden was too large that the government launched a program to encourage people practice self regulatory and private pension programs to reduce the burden for 4:2:1 and allow the savings to improve the economic status of not only their own but also the economy at large (Cecilia 1997).


When the one child policy was introduced in china, it was aimed to achieve several objectives both short run and in long term. This program was an upper hill task to implement and at first it was on trial basis that was done with voluntarily. This did not achieve its targets and other ways and means of implementing the same was sought. The government makes the one child phenomenon an inspiration but first explore of how to achieve their objective. It went to an extent that the government used sanctions and other measures to ensure compliance. They are the loss of employment opportunities, imprisonment and financial schemes.

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