As the world’s population grows at an increasing rate, issues of resource scarcity, hunger, poverty and health management are more pressing than ever. According to the United Nation, world population will reach 9.6 billion by the year of 2050 (UN 2010), pressing much tension on all aspects of sustainbility. There is no doubt that all countries should work together to keep the overall population under control, but China certainly seems to have the major responsibility. For centuries, China is considered the most populous country in the world. It has a population of more than 1.3 billion, consitituting nearly 1/5 of the world population. Such a large population not only adds burdens to the world as a whole but also creates lots of social, economic and environmental challenges within the domestic sphere. To cope with these problems, the Chinese government established the One Child Policy in 1979, putting strains on the number of children allowed to be born. The policy is credited with lowering fertility rate to an all time low level and contributing to spectacular economic development, but the cost is also apparent and takes a great number of forms. Though being controversial, the policy has been strictly enforced for more than three decades. Nothing has ever changed until the recent Third Plenum, when president Xi Jinping announced that the One Child Policy will be relaxed.
In this paper, I will give a brief introduction on the One Child Policy, the reason it was conducted in the past thirty years as well as its effects. I will then explain how the policy has been changed and what motivates this change. I will argue that despite this loosening of One Child Policy received sharp evaluations right after it was implemented, such an adjustent certainly has many merits that should be well recognized, and it is the right adjustment to be made.
2. The One Child Policy and Its Effects
A century ago, most Chinese families included multiple generations living under the same roof. The fertility rate was extremely high. Each woman has averagely 2.9 children thirty years ago, and if looking even further back, 6 children were born to every woman in the 1970s. Today, though, this is no longer the case. Since the late 20th century, most Chinese families include a married man and woman with one child, known as “core family”. The country now has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. What leads to all these changes? Some think that the urbanization developments in the 1970s may play a role in reducing population as the cost of living went up. The more important reason, however, is the implement of the One Child Policy.
The One Child Policy was first established as a short-term nation wide policy in an effort to control the exploding population. The policy limits most urban Han (the largest nationality in China) couples to only one child. In order to have more than one child, parents may pay a harsh fine up to $2000 (Mosher, 1983). The 56...