China's One-child Policy and Its Global Impact On Population

Categories: China

One-Child Policy has led to much tormenting and hardship in families' daily life. Under the severe restriction from the government, many women were forced to go through abortion which causes many depressions, there were situations that parents made heartbreaking decisions and give away their daughter so that they can have a son. Due to the necessary needs of having a son, it has skewed the gender ratio population which had an increase in human trafficking who targets women. The one-child policy gave birth to the new generation of “The Little Emperor” that changed the Chinese cultural behavior.

China was limited to resource and their only solution was to limit their population. Before the one-child policy, a woman had about an average of 7 children. With birth control and propaganda in the 1970s, the government started its one-child policy. Now the women are going from an average of 7 children to only one-child. The family who follows the rule would be treated well by the government.

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Those who go against it, will be targeted by the government and suffer to make a living.

Since the start of the one-child policy, there has been a decreasing rate of the younger child and an increase in the rate of elder. However, the government is not taking responsibility to support the elder with healthcare. Those who lost their only child were the ones who worried the most Since they won’t have anyone to take care of them once they get older. “50 % of parents in this situation suffer from chronic illness such as hypertension and heart disease; 15 % have serious conditions like cancer and paralysis; and 60 % suffer from depression, with over half showing suicidal tendencies.

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In addition, 50 % have economic difficulties, with monthly incomes below ¥1200 (less than $200); and 20 % are solely dependent on the low social insurance pay-outs provided by the state” (Nie, 354). Moreover, now they are building elderly home care for those parents who lost their only child. Though they are building homes for the elderly, not every elder can afford it. With a little amount of income and such high medical, many elders suicide rather than living through the torment.

The suicide rate of the elder had increased. “Compared to the national suicide rates among the middle-aged people, suicides of rural male elderly age 80-84 are more than ten times higher and those of rural male elderly of age 85 and above nearly twenty times higher.” (Nie, 356). Most of the time the elderly suicide is because of living conditions such as mistreatment, abuse or negligence against the elder. Which is not uncommon. Even though the economy had been increasing in China and have more middle class, the government is not doing anything to solve this situation instead blamed it on the children who are supposed to be responsible for their elders like the cultural way.

Women were under restriction during the one-child policy. They were only allowed to have one child, once they have a kid they were no longer allowed to have anymore. There were consequences for those who choose to break the law. According to Nangfu Wang, she said that there were some cases where the government have people do a monthly check-up from house to house, on women to see if they have their menstruation or not. Also once the government found out that the women are pregnant with the second child, no matter how far they are into pregnancy. If they don’t have a birth permit then they were forced to get an abortion. Nangfu’s village had a “ Midwife” who was forced by the government to abort babies and in the total estimation, she aborted around 50,000 to 60,000 babies in her whole career. Sometimes the infant will make it through the abortion and had to be killed because of restrictions.

If families were found out of having more than one child they had to pay the fine that varies from “ $370 to $12,800” (Tsintolas). If parents fail to pay the fine, the government will make it difficult for the family to make a living by getting them to lose their jobs, belongs, land or even lose their child. In the worst-case scenario, The women can be forced to get sterilized, which means that they won’t be able to reproduce anymore. Just from the fine of the one-child policy alone, the government had collected more than two trillion (Parkinson). Not only that, China had prevented more than 400 million babies from being born.

In Chinese culture, the eldest son in the family is responsible for taking care of the elders. In the case of the one-child policy, they have no choice but to only have one kid. So when the women give birth to a daughter, they would abandon or put it in the orphanage, So that they can have a son to carry on their family name. There were some cases that parents would throw their baby in the streets hoping someone would adopt the baby, most of the time they ended up dying because everyone wanted a son at that time. Nang Wang said, “When my mother was going through labor, my grandmother put a basket in the front door and said that if she gave birth to a girl, then we will put her in a basket and abandoned her”. Usually, when the human traffickers take the kids they would sell them to orphanages that would make a profit from the kid getting adopted by other countries.

Disturbingly the government will allow the family to have kids and then take the baby away and purposely put them in orphanages because the family didn’t have a birth permit. Most of the time these babies that are getting adopted are not actually by their families but separated by the government. What the government did was that they pay some human traffickers to sell the babies to orphanages. However, when the situation was found out, the government used the human traffickers as the scapegoat to avoid a bad reputation.

For traditional reasons, many of the girls didn’t have the opportunity like should. A huge numerous amount of girls were abandoned by their families. Many parents love their daughter but had no choice. Instead of killing their baby, What they did was give their daughters away to human traffickers, Hoping they would have a place for it to live and grow up. Nangfu Wang also mentioned “ I had an aunt who didn’t want her daughter to die, after giving birth she gave the baby to a human trafficker. Hoping that she’ll have a good life”. The demands for boys begin to increase dramatically over the decades leading to a gender imbalance, “a shortfall in the female population of an estimated 30 to 40 million” (Gunia). This issue became a problem for the men to find a mate. Human traffickers sought this as a great opportunity and begin kidnapping females from neighboring countries like, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and even North Korea for those who seek a wife. Most of the time these women were told to get they would get a promising job with a high salary. After getting kidnapped, Most of the women were held captive. Others were raped or were forced to get into a marriage and bare a child.

When having one child only, the thing parents tend to do is give their kids all the love and provide their kids what they want. This situation had become so common in the Chinese cultural now the only child is known as “The Little Emperor”. The little emperor is a name used for the only child, Since they get spoiled and get whatever they want, almost like an emperor. In the book of Young China, Zak interviewed a family who had only one child. The parents along with the grandparents would all be a school with the kid and watch him learn. “ His six relative hovered over him. His grandfather and his paternal grandmother held his arm and patted his back, talking over each other as they tried to soothe him. His maternal grandmother and mother were the only ones who seemed unmoved. They continued to hold a sheet of paper in front of him, repeating something that I couldn't make out as I walked toward them.” (55 Dychtwald). Being the little emperor also comes with great responsibility. As an only child, they are expected to know how to read and write at a very young age.

Even during the kid’s free time, he would be forced to learn, for his parents fear that he would fall behind. Since it’s a competitive world out there. Though some parents tend to over spoil their only child by feeding them too much. There were cases of many little emperors who ended up being overweight that can sometimes develop diabetes which gets carried into the next generation.

Jing Bao brought up an interesting point in his statement about the one-child policy and how that had changed the newer generation. He said “ Even if the government were to completely abolish the population control policy and impose no limitation upon the number of children people may have, it is unlikely that the couple would have then two children because of the changed belief on the family size, increasingly competitive job opportunities, retrenchment of welfare, and the rising cost. of living especially raising and educating children. '' (352, Bao) Since the government had been rising the cost of living and because of their limited resources, it would be harder to raise a big family. Even now, the newer generation had no interest in having more than one child.

Traditionally, the eldest son of the family would be responsible for taking care of their parents once they get older. Now that they only have one child. It was the only child’s responsibility, which most Chinese now have “ As a consequence of the one-child policy, in 2014 in China has more than 200 million single children. what has been called the “ 4-2-1” family structure ( Four grandparents, Two parents, and one child) has become the norm. A generation of single children whose parents are no longer able to bear a second child has come of age. For these families, the recent relaxation of the policy has become too late” (Bao, 353) By the time China got rid of the one-child policy citizens had already gotten used to the current system. Since the economy is rising and the cost of living is going to increase too, parents decide that it was better to only a few children.

In conclusion, the One-child policy tormented families in China, by splitting the family apart through abortion or sterilization. Thousands of women went through depression because of the loss of their babies. Orphanage rates increase the intensity due to the demand for baby boys instead of girls. Which leads to a skewed population of more boys than girls. Since the men are having a harder time to find a female for reproduction, Human trafficking increase dramatically. On the other hand, families are treating their only child with great care but also under numerous pressure and high expectations. Which made a great impact on society because of competition. However, a lot of the times some tend to get spoiled or go through depression because of the pressure from family or society. Now that the Chinese government abolished the restrictions on one-child policies allowing citizens to have more than one child, parents are only having 2 children at most. Even if China were to restart from 1979, they would have still done the one-child policy due to the lack of resources for the whole population. Though, the government should have reduced the number of kids slowly, instead of aiming for the threshold of only one child per family.

Updated: Feb 27, 2024
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China's One-child Policy and Its Global Impact On Population. (2024, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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