The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported earlier this month that China was considering relaxing its one-child policy for some families. In an email interview, Therese Hesketh, a professor at the Center for International Health and Development at University College London, explained the one-child policy’s impact and alternative policy options.
WPR: What prompted the latest move to consider relaxing the one-child policy?
Therese Hesketh: When the one-child policy was introduced in 1979, the government claimed it would last for one generation only. It is important to note that the one-child rule applies to less than half the population: Only urban residents and government workers in rural areas are covered. Most of the rural population is allowed a second child, five years after the first, though in some places only if the first is a girl. Third children are allowed in underpopulated areas and for some ethnic minority groups.