In 1978 Chinese statisticians and demographers alerted the Chinese government leaders that due to the large flux in the population of Chinese young adults there would be a continual increase in the Chinese population of over 1% annually for foreseeable decades. This heavily populated future was not a sustainable or productive outcome to China’s goal of the modernization of the population. The future based on this population would inevitably slow down the modernization of China due to the demand for both financial and material resources and increasing population demands.
In response to the demographers the Chinese government instated the One Child Policy, a policy set up based on rewards and penalties for those who abide by the policy of having only one, and under some circumstances two, children. The one Child Policy eventually evolved into a more solidified to a more drastic policy which required China’s Han ethnic group to only be allowed one child. Forced abortions and sterilization are both common outcomes for those who fail to abide by the policy.
The families that tended to have more than the allotted amount of children tended to be poorer families which needed more hands to work, had a lower rate of survival, or were necessary to a family’s survival. Opposing that, the families that did follow the policy tended to be the richer and educated. These families were rewarded for following the policies that were put in place. The policy set up by the Chinese government shows a lack of human equality based on both class and gender, which has led to both social separation as well as the abuse of the populace.
The One Child Policy was originally set up as a response to the predicted population growth of China from the 1970’s to the decades preceding them. In the prior decades China had promoted birth control and made an effort to slow down the population growth. However with no solidified policy there was no repercussion from the government for following or ignoring the spread propaganda. However in China’s hope to bring forth an age of modernization they prioritized industrialization and steel production over farming and food production.
This choice resulted in the food supply slipping to a point where it could no longer keep up or support the ever increasing population growth. By 1962 this lack of a sustainable food supply led to a famine that resulted in an estimated 30 million deaths. In the years following China continued to promote birth control and population limits, this time proving to be successful. In the following years, 1970 to 1976, the population growth dropped by half of what it was previously. This newly lowered population growth was not yet at the ideal level in the governments eyes.
Thus the introduction of the first step in the One Child Policy was set in place in 1978, encouraging couples to have only one, or two maximum, child(ren). At the time Minister of Public Health, Deputy Qian Xinzhong stated in an analysis “At the existing rate of population growth, China will have a population of 1,300 million by the end of the century. If the population grows to such a size, we will be compelled to devote a considerable amount of financial and material resources to feeding the newly increased populace. That will inevitably slow down the four modernizations. (Banister 184) China’s goals of lowering population growth were fast and extreme so that they could eliminate the possibility of an over-populace using up precious resources. Using propaganda tactics the Chinese government was able to convey an exaggerated negative effect of population growth. Not only was propaganda used to instill a fear of an increased population growth, but a system of rewards and penalties was set up to reward those who abided by the child limit, as well as punish those who chose to not follow the policy.
Financial incentives were used to reward all the couples who took the One Child Pledge, including; a monthly cash payment, preference in job assignment and housing allocation, free medical treatment for the child, free and prioritized schooling for the child, as well as several other benefits that would not be available to families with multiple children. When this system was introduced it still allowed families to have up to two children, which was soon substituted for one child only without extenuating circumstances.
Due to this drop in number of children allowed there has been a distinct split in the rewards and punishment concept. The urbanized, educated, and wealthier part of the population have an easier time supporting a family when they have only one child, thus it is easier for them to reap the benefits of the rewards program. Opposing that, the poor, uneducated, and rural part of the population cannot afford to have only one child because the labor and income that is generated by multiple children is needed.
The downfall to this is that these families that opt to have multiple children cannot benefit from the rewards program, continuing the cycle of a lack of education and poverty, and are even punished for having more than one child. Couples who violated the government birthing policies faced fines that depended on region, but could end up being three times the family’s annual salary. Not only fines were applied though, there was common discrimination from jobs, loss of priority in housing, schools, jobs as well as a lack of opportunity for social advancement.
This split can be seen as financially rewarding the advantaged couples while depriving the disadvantaged couples of the necessary aid they require to follow the One Child Policy. Although the rewards were almost immediately available for families following the policy, the punishment concerning those who had a 3rd child or more were not penalized until about 1980 so as to allow for the completion of pregnancies that were in their 2nd or 3rd trimester when the policy was instated.
From 1979 to 1981 urban governments worked to stop all second or higher child births, and provincial governments were working to do the same in rural areas by 1982. The Jilin province was one such province that took the government’s plan seriously when introduced in October of 1979 “…parents of all babies born outside the local government’s birth plan each year would be penalized. ” (Banister 191) Due to the stricter regulation on children in the rural areas a trend of neglect and abuse started towards unwanted babies.
There are campaigns that run that reward neighbors for turning in others who have multiple children or mothers who are pregnant with a second child. This results in the loss of jobs, and can even result in the government dragging in expectant mothers to operating rooms to perform late term abortions. There have even been cases where women have been dragged into surgery, while they are recovering after the birth of a child, to undergo tubal ligation. “The worst abuses… take place in small towns and in rural areas, where a point system rewards or punishes local officials based on their ability to meet quotas. (Jacobs) Many babies were and are neglected, abandoned, or aborted due to one of many reasons. The child could be a second, third, or higher baby and the government could have ordered a forced abortion of the child. The parents may choose to rid themselves of the child so as not to be penalized because of them. But one of the most common problems faced was in a rural area and the baby turned out to be a girl. Many rural families want to have male children to work and support their families, which is tagged as being easier for a male than female.
Due to the want of male children the ratio of boy children to girl children in China is at 113 male to 100 female. The standard global ratio is 107 boys to 100 girls. The comparison of the two ratios shows just how prevalent it is to thwart the birth of a female child to try and opt for a male child. Not only does this lead to an increase of abortions, but it leads to an increase in neglect, abuse, and abandonment of children solely based on their gender. When the one child laws were passed there was a recorded influx of female infanticide.
For years these examples of infanticide are an example for the lack of respect towards a human being solely because of gender. It is estimated that there are over 50 million women that are accounted as missing, due to the killing and neglect because of the one child laws. The government did realize this problem and instated measures, but not until the 1980’s where they instated a law for rural provinces where families could have a second child under the circumstance that their first child was a girl.
However with the drop in the female population due to the infanticide demonstrated by those who wanted a son there is such an imbalance in the ratio between men and women that it is estimated that there is such a large population of men that will not be able to marry because of the difference in population numbers. Due to this there has also been an increase in the slave trade of women to form “arranged marriages”. These results of the one child policy are all different, yet each shows a common theme of the disregard for human life and the difference between people’s equality based upon gender.
One of the new problems faced with the one child policy is effect on population growth now. “The average birthrate has plummeted to 1. 8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy into effect…” (Cha). With a falling birthrate there is a large generation gap between the senior age group compared to the newer generations. The estimated percent of the population age 60 or older is estimated to be about 16. 7 percent by 2020, and up to 31. 1 percent of the population by 2050.
In certain regions there is such an over-weighted ratio between 60 and older and new born children that in Shanghai in 2008, 60 and older residents made up almost 22 percent of the populace, whereas the birthrate was below 1 child per couple. When the one child policy was put in place there was a high amount of child birth which was the cause of the lack of resources, but now in modern times the one child policy has limited birth rates so much that China will soon start to see a negative population growth. It’s estimated that by 2025 the population growth will be roughly 0, and by 2050 there will be a population loss of 0. percent, meaning that the birthrate is out-weighed by the death rate. Because of the recent demographic findings regions of China have started amending the laws slightly to allow more families to be able to apply for a permit to allow a second child. This started in rural areas, but in more recent times it has spread into urban society, especially in places where the birthrates are especially low. One such city is Shanghai, where in July, 2009 the citizens started to campaign to encourage more births. In some instances now the one child policy is nothing more than a way to make money.
It was estimated in 2010 that one city in the Hunan province collected 1. 8 million dollars in fines just between the months of July and September. An independent demographer, He Yafu, studied family planning regulations for two decades and stated “It’s become a huge vehicle for officials to collect money,” he said. “In some localities, the budget relies almost entirely on such fines. ” (Jacobs). The income generated by these fines and the reliance on people paying up to 3 to 4 years’ salary on having a second child shows the blatant disregard for the importance of human life.
These fines are one more reason there has been such a drastic drop in births, and such an increase in child abuse and deaths. The one child policies that have been set up in China were set up with good reason, so as not to face further famine that had previously been a result of overpopulation, yet it has led to a disregard for human equality and rights and has forced many people to undergo hardship and restriction is currently leading to a negative effect on China’s population growth.
China’s plan to have a smaller population growth has been over shot and is dragging down the standard of living of those who cannot afford to get out of the uneducated and rural lower class while unequally boosting that of those who can already afford to live in the upper class. The one child policies demonstrate an inequality between classes and genders that has resulted in decades of death, poverty, and an unequal treatment. It has not solved the problem that it was set up to solve, but it has in fact increased the problems that now face China. Greenhalgh, Susan.
Just One Child. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Print. Jacobs, Andrew. “Abuses Cited in Enforcing China Policy of One Child. ” New York Times. New York Times, 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 9 Nov. 2012. Cha, Ariana Eunjung. “Looming population crisis forces China to rethink one-child policy. ” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, 12 Dec. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. Banister, Judith. China’s Changing Population. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987. Print. Fitzpatrick, Laura. “China’s One-Child Policy. ” Time World. Time Inc. , 27 July 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2012