China’s One-Child Policy: Do Its Negative Effects Outweigh the Positive?

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According to the United Nation’s World Population Prospects: 2017 Revision, the world’s population currently sits at around 7.6 billion people, with the Earth’s carrying capacity maxing out at 9-10 billion people, we are at the brink of overpopulation.(United Nation’s World Population Prospects, 2017) Many countries, including China, realize this and have taken steps individually to reduce their populations. In order to control population, China has integrated the Two-Child Policy. The policy states that each couple may have two children if one of the parents is an only child. If a couple is discovered to have more children than the policy allows, both the couple and the child are punished. Many people find the punishments, and the idea that the government should dictate how many children a woman is allowed to have, inhumane, and a violation of their rights as a human being. This makes the policy very controversial and begs the question: Is China’s two-child policy good or bad with respect to China’s individuals, families, culture, and economy? China’s two-child policy is bad because it negatively impacts the individuals, families, culture, and economy of China. How can we solve this?

The One-Child Policy

As Medical Care improved and China became far more industrial than agricultural, the population began to grow rapidly. By 1976, the population of China was around 970 million people and was quickly approaching 1 billion people, so naturally the leaders of China met to discuss what could be done over the issue of overpopulation. At first, to try to stunt the population growth, the government began promoting contraceptives. They even implemented a slogan: “Late, Long, and a Few”. However, this did not do much. Although it did decrease the population growth by half from 1970 to 1976, China was still experiencing food shortages and soon the decrease rate faded. ( This resulted in the government deciding to take extreme measures. As a result the One-Child Policy had officially been integrated on September 25, 1980. ( The One-Child Policy was introduced by the leader of China, at the time, Deng Xiaoping.

Initially, this policy was supposed to be a temporary measure. ( The main goal of the One-Child Policy was to reduce the overall population of China by imitating families to one child. Not everybody had to comply with the One-Child Policy, minority groups as well as couples who were both only children in their families were allowed a second child. ( Those who broke the policy were brutally punished, many were forced to have abortions or be sterilized. In 2013 there were approximately 336 million abortions and 196 million sterilizations. Around 17,000 women were forced to have abortions or to be sterilized. A woman who was eight months pregnant was forced to have an abortion, recounting her experience; she states ‘He was still alive after the nurse pulled him out from me. He was a tough little creature. He clutched the nurse’s sleeve and wouldn’t let go. She had to peel his fingers off her one by one before she could drop him into the bin'(

Although the policy was successful in decreasing the population, having prevented approximately 400 million births, it had unintended effects. (

The Unintended Effects of the One-Child Policy

One of the effects of the One-Child Policy was an imbalanced sex ratio. The sex ratio had become very much in favor of males. Since the families could only have one child, males were more desirable as they could carry on the family name. Females, on the other hand, could not and as a result were much less desirable. Daughters became more and more unwanted as time went on, many female fetuses were aborted, and many little girls were either sent to orphanages or abandoned. Some births were even hidden from the government. These children faced a plethora of problems such as struggling to get an education and to become employed. ( Nin Huing’s Mother gave birth to her in a secret, underground clinic. As an illegal second child, she writes the following:

‘I am an unwelcome second child. The Chinese government would have preferred I had never been born. If my mom’s pregnancy was ever discovered, I would have been aborted.” (

Another unintended effect was an imbalance in the ratio between the young and the old. As there were far less young citizens than old citizens, there were far too many going into retirement and far too little going into work. This resulted in the shrinking of the workforce. As a result, the One-Child Policy ended in 2016 and the Two-Child policy began.

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