China’s One Child Policy

China’s one child per family policy has been very successful. So successful that 24 million young men may never marry because of a shortage of eligible young women.

The one-child policy was written into the Chinese constitution in 1978. It was designed to stem an overpopulation boom that threatened destroy the country’s natural resources and economy. The policy, enforced by fines, abortion, and forced sterilization, has resulted in a lopsided birthrate of 115 males to 100 females. Normally, 105 males are born for every 100 females.

The number of girls has been further distorted by discarding female babies by neglect, abandonment, selective abortions, and infanticide. Traditionally, a son was desired because he and his family would care for his parents and carry on the family name. This is still an important family role in rural areas, and the government does make some exceptions to the one child limit for farmers and ethnic minorities.

Another social impact caused by the one child policy is the looming age imbalance of the Chinese Nation. Because of the low birth rate, there are too few younger workers to provide for the aging population. There are reports that the government is considering expanding the population policy to two children per family, to reverse the population loss.

When polled, most mothers (70%) suggested they would opt for two children. Others said they were satisfied with one child and did not have the time or the energy for more. The single children, without siblings and sharing, are often called “little emperors” and are called spoiled by their critics.

Wealthy urban families can take advantage of a loophole now. Children born in foreign countries are not counted under the policy, if they do not become Chinese citizens. Specialized travel agents now book flights to the United States where Chinese women can give birth to babies who will be U.S. Citizens.

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