China’s one-child family policy has had a great effect on the lives of nearly a quarter of the world’s population for a quarter of a century, after it was introduced in 1979. One of the effects is often referred to as “Little Emperor’s Syndrome”, which is when the only child received excessive amounts of attention from relatives causing a “spoilt brat” generation to occur.
This puts both social and economic pressures on the families and children. By only having one child per family it allows the family to solely use its resources on that child; thus allowing the child to often fulfill their potential, as English lessons, music lessons and an additional range of extracurricular activities are normal. Although this has positive outcomes such as a rise in the number of Chinese children going to university, it has still mainly had the negative effect of the “Little Emperors” having large expectations of everyone else, with the government now being worried about a slump in the economy, being one of the many reasons why China may drop the one child policy.
One of the main issues with the one child policy is that 336 million abortions in the time of the policy have taken place, which has caused a few moral issues throughout the world, with many people questioning the policy. Although many people in China have said that it has been a positive as a way to maintain the resources in the country and stop a large increase in the population.
The number of abortions is paired with the issue of gendercide in China being at an all time high, people want a “Little Emperor” and not “Little Empress” due to traditional preference, this again presents a moral issue with the policy and may lead to future problems. Over 20 million girls are aborted each year and with over 50 million Chinese girls currently missing, there is a problem brewing in that there will be a shortage of women in comparison to men which may see the population and economy of China drop. The one child policy is also a costly program for the Chinese Government with over 400,000 people currently working for the policy and annually costs $708.8 million.
This is not helped by the fact that the one child policy is creating a generation of youngsters that is not as good a working force compared to the current one; this is due to the fact that the “Little Emperors” are spoiled and do not expect to work for themselves (especially in urban areas, where there are wealthier families). It is thought that with the population (Fig 1) stagnating the economy may stagnate also, due to a smaller working force and one that is less willing to work, an example of the “Little Emperor’s Syndrome” is that there has been a doubling in the number of platinum jewelry sales in China, an expensive gift usually given to children. Although the parental expectations are high, only 2% of Chinese children are able to go to university, which many Chinese scholars suggest may be a sign of the future of the stagnation of the Chinese economy.
This all shows that the one child policy may not be aiding the economy that has currently been one of the fastest growing in the world, causing a few people in China to question it. The policy has also affected the children themselves, as surveys have suggested that children born during the one child policy are significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, and less conscientious individuals. All these characteristics are due to the fact that many of these children are born as an only child, and they now have present implications for the nation.
These consequences include the number of criminal incidents to increase by 7.2% in the past 3 years and over $17 billion being spent on illegal drugs; this is because many young people create groups or gangs as close relationships in the place of ones with their siblings; but also due to the fact that a surplus of men has caused an increase in violence due to the increase in young males not marrying and becoming restless. This is not going to be beneficial for the country as it is causing youngsters to be misled into crime and will also be expensive for the government to try and expel from the country. It is also a thought that in the future there will be fewer people of a working age to support a growing number of elderly dependents, meaning that China has an ageing population.
(Fig 2) Unfortunately, ageing populations have significant social and economic effects on countries, and with China’s fertility rate being predicted to be as low as 1.5 [a 2.1 fertility rate is needed in China in order for sustainability] the long term effects of the One-Child policy are likely to have detrimental effects for the future; including a stagnating economy. This is made worse by the fact that there are 60 million more men than women in China, which, is only going to lead to more social problems, such as a decrease in population in the future. (Fig 1)Which is shown by a recent census, China’s population grew 5.8% since 2000, from 1.27 billion to 1.34 billion — a significant difference from the previous census, which indicated a rate of 11.7%. (Fig 1) Finally, a positive effect of the one child policy is that it has severely reduced the population of the China by roughly 400 million. This has created an abundance of resources for China, which was under some pressure for necessities such as drinking water.
However, China has dealt with that through projects such as the Three Gorges Dam, but also through the one child policy allowing for the surplus resources to exist due to the decline in population growth. The lack of 400 million people has also helped reduce global warming, because, by stopping these births China has averted over 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Overall, it is clear that there are many negative consequences that have occurred or that will occur due to the one child policy, which is why it is thought that by 2020 the one child policy will no longer exist and that it will become the two child policy.
The problems are economic and social problems that revolve around the idea of an ageing population that will need financial support from a spoiled generation; yet, the only environmental factors are positive- with global warming being reduced and the resources in China lasting longer and there being surplus. However, it is obvious that the “Little Emperors” are going to have to support China in their time of need, which is due to the one child policy, and it is whether they can do it or whether they have been spoiled to the extent that they are unable to run one of the biggest economies in the world. Lastly, the one child policy has probably been good for China itself, but the way that other nations now perceive China after the “brutal” one child policy, may cause them future problems.