In Maintaining One-Child Policy, China Undermines Internal Stability

By Andrea Den Boer, Valerie M. Hudson, on , Briefing

On Oct. 31, the global population was estimated to have reached the 7 billion mark. On the eve of that momentous day, Li Bin, director of China’s State Population and Family Planning Commission, announced that China would retain its one-child fertility policy to do its part to slow world population growth. This news will have come as a bitter disappointment to the Chinese demographers and policymakers who have been calling for a relaxation of the one-child policy for several years. Wang Yuqing, the deputy director of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Committee on Population, Natural Resources and the Environment, told the media in March that the committee was proposing that China move toward a two-child policy to begin in 2015. There were further proposals by leaders of Chinese provinces to move toward a two-child policy in coastal cities or in provinces with a large elderly population. Regrettably, it appears these progressive forces have lost a behind-the-scenes bureaucratic battle.

The Chinese one-child policy, initiated in 1979, was arguably the most ambitious attempt by a state to regulate fertility to reduce population growth. At that time, the Chinese population accounted for 25 percent of world population, a figure that has now fallen to 20 percent due to the strict measures employed to limit births in China. Most calculate the policy has prevented between 300 million and 400 million births since its announcement. The policy has never been absolute: While the one-child-per-couple rule is enforced in urban areas, couples in most rural areas are generally permitted two children when the first child is a girl, and births among ethnic minorities are exempted. ...

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