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1.(MeSH)A course or method of action selected, usually by a government, to guide and determine present and future decisions on population control by limiting the number of children or controlling fertility, notably through family planning and contraception within the nuclear family.
1.(MeSH)A course or method of action selected, usually by a government, to guide and determine present and future decisions on population control by limiting the number of children or controlling fertility, notably through family planning and contraception within the nuclear family.
One-Child Policy (n.) [MeSH]
The one-child policy (simplified Chinese: 计划生育政策; traditional Chinese: 計劃生育政策; pinyin: jìhuà shēngyù zhèngcè; literally "policy of birth planning") is the one-child limitation in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy. It officially restricts married, urban couples to having only one child, while allowing exemptions for several cases, including rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. A spokesperson of the Committee on the One-Child Policy has said that approximately 35.9% of China's population is currently subject to the one-child restriction. The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are completely exempt from the policy. Also exempt from this law are foreigners living in China.
This policy was introduced in 1978 and initially applied to first-born children in the year of 1979. It was created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, and authorities make the grossly exaggerated claim that the policy has prevented between 250 and 300 million births from its implementation until 2000, and 400 million births from 1979 to 2011. The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented, and because of concerns about negative social consequences. The policy has been implicated in an increase in forced abortions, female infanticide, and underreporting of female births, and has been suggested as a possible cause behind China's gender imbalance. Nonetheless, a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy.
The policy is enforced at the provincial level through fines that are imposed based on the income of the family and other factors. Population and Family Planning Commissions (Chinese: 计划生育委员会; pinyin: Jìhuà Shēngyù Wěiyuánhuì) exist at every level of government to raise awareness about the issue and carry out registration and inspection work. Despite this policy, there are still many citizens that continue to have more than one child.
In 2008, China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the policy will remain in place for at least another decade. In 2010, it was announced that the majority of the citizens initially subject to the policy are no longer of reproductive age and it has been speculated that many citizens simply disregard or violate the policy in more recent years. The deputy director of the Commission stated that the policy would remain unaltered until at least 2015. In March 2011, the Chinese government reviewed the policy and expressed considerations to allow for couples to have a second child.
|Population in China|
|Source: Census of China|
During the period of Mao Zedong's leadership, while the crude birth rate fell from 37 to 20 per thousand , infant mortality declined from 227/1000 births in 1949 to 53/1000 in 1981, and life expectancy dramatically increased from around 35 years in 1949 to 65 years in 1976. The latter two factors resulted in a ballooning of the population from around 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976. Exacerbating the problem was Mao's belief of earlier decades that population growth empowered China, which prevented the emergence of family planning programs earlier in China's development.
In order to address overpopulation, the one-child policy promotes one-child families and forbids couples from having more than one child in urban areas. Parents with multiple children are not given the same benefits as parents of one child. In most cases, wealthy families pay a fee to the government in order to have a second child or more.
The limit has been strongly enforced in urban areas, but the actual implementation varies from location to location. In most rural areas, families are allowed to apply to have a second child if the first is a girl, or has a physical disability, mental illness or mental retardation. Second children are subject to birth spacing (usually 3 or 4 years). Additional children will result in large fines: families violating the policy are required to pay monetary penalties and might be denied bonuses at their workplace. Children born in overseas countries are not counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from abroad can have a second child.
As of 2007, 35.9% of the population were subject to a strict one-child limit. 52.9% were permitted to have a second child when the couple's first child is a girl; 9.6% of Chinese couples were permitted two children, regardless of their gender; and 1.6% - mainly Tibetans - had no limit at all.
The social fostering or maintenance fee (simplified Chinese: 社会抚养费; traditional Chinese: 社會撫養費; pinyin: shèhuì fǔyǎngfèi) sometimes called in the West a family planning fine, is collected as a fraction of either the annual disposable income of city dwellers or of the annual cash income of peasants, in the year of the child's birth. In 2007, the formula for figuring the amount of the fine for a "private enterprise boss" was as follows: For an income of 200,000 yuan per year, the maximum social child-raising fee would be 20,000×6+(200,000-20,000)×2=480,000 yuan (about US$63,763) and a minimum 20,000×3+(200,000-20,000)×1=240,000 yuan (US$31,884). Both members of the couple would need to pay a fine, although it was left unclear whether they both would pay the same amount. The parents also have to pay for both the children to go to school and all the family's health care. Some children who are in one-child families pay less than the children in other families.
The one-child policy was designed from the outset to be a one-generation policy.
The one-child policy is now enforced at the provincial level, and enforcement varies; some provinces have relaxed the restrictions. Many provinces and cities, such as Henan and Beijing, permit two "only child" parents to have two children. As early as 1987, official policy granted local officials the flexibility to make exceptions and allow second children in the case of "practical difficulties" (such as cases in which the father is a disabled serviceman) or when both parents are single children, and some provinces had other exemptions worked into their policies as well. Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a new exception to the regulations was announced in Sichuan province for parents who had lost children in the earthquake. Similar exceptions have previously been made for parents of severely disabled or deceased children. People have also tried to evade the policy by giving birth to a second child in Hong Kong, but at least for Guangdong residents, the one-child policy is also enforced if the birth was given in Hong Kong or abroad.
Moreover, in accordance with PRC's affirmative action policies towards ethnic minorities, all non-Han ethnic groups are subjected to different rules and are usually allowed to have two children in urban areas, and three or four in rural areas. Han Chinese living in rural areas, also, are often permitted to have two children. Because of couples such as these, as well as urban couples who simply pay a fine (or "social maintenance fee") to have more children, the overall fertility rate of mainland China is closer to two children per family than to one child to a family (1.8 in 2008). The steepest drop in fertility occurred in the 1970s before one child per family was implemented in 1979. Population policies and campaigns have been ongoing in China since the 1950s. During the 1970s, a campaign of 'One is good, two is okay, and three is too many' was heavily promoted.
In April 2007 a study by the University of California, Irvine, which claimed to be the first systematic study of the policy, found that it had proved "remarkably effective". Other reports have shown population ageing and negative population growth in some areas.
An advocacy group, composed of academics inside and outside China, has studied the policy since 2001. That group distributed a report in 2004, documenting the policy's effects on age and gender distribution, but government response was not favorable. The group distributed another report in 2009, but the government has stated that the policy will not change until 2015 at the earliest.
After the introduction of the one-child policy, the fertility rate in China fell from 2.63 births per woman in 1980 (already a sharp reduction from more than five births per woman in the early 1970s) to 1.61 in 2009. However, the policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate.
The Chinese government make the grossly exaggerated claim that it had three to four hundred million fewer people in 2008 with the one-child policy, than it would have had otherwise. Chinese authorities thus consider the policy as a great success in helping to implement China's current economic growth. The reduction in the fertility rate and thus population growth has reduced the severity of problems that come with overpopulation, like epidemics, slums, overwhelmed social services (such as health, education, law enforcement), and strain on the ecosystem from abuse of fertile land and production of high volumes of waste. Even with the one-child policy in place, China still has one million more births than deaths every five weeks.
It is reported that the focus of China on population control helps provide a better health service for women and a reduction in the risks of death and injury associated with pregnancy. At family planning offices, women receive free contraception and pre-natal classes.
The individual savings rate has increased since the one-child policy was introduced. This has been partially attributed to the policy in two respects. First, the average Chinese household expends fewer resources, both in terms of time and money, on children, which gives many Chinese more money with which to invest. Second, since young Chinese can no longer rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an impetus to save money for the future.
The original intent of the one-child policy was economic, to reduce the demand of natural resources, maintaining a steady labor rate, reducing unemployment caused from surplus labor, and reducing the rate of exploitation. The CPC's justification for this policy was based on their support of Mao Zedong's supposedly Marxist theory of population growth, though Marx was actually witheringly critical of Malthusianism.
One type of criticism has come from those who acknowledge the challenges stemming from China's high population growth but believe that less intrusive options, including those that emphasized delay and spacing of births, could have achieved the same results over an extended period of time. Susan Greenhalgh's (2003) review of the policy-making process behind the adoption of the OCPF shows that some of these alternatives were known but not fully considered by China's political leaders.
Another criticism is directed at the exaggerated claimed effects of the policy on the reduction in the total fertility rate. Studies by Chinese demographers, funded in part by the UN Fund for Population Activities, showed that combining poverty alleviation and health care with relaxed targets for family planning was more effective at reducing fertility than vigorous enforcement of very ambitious fertility reduction targets. In 1988, Zeng Yi and Professor T. Paul Schultz of Yale University discussed the effect of the transformation to the market on Chinese fertility, arguing that the introduction of the contract responsibility system in agriculture during the early 1980s weakened family planning controls during that period. Zeng contended that the "big cooking pot" system of the People's Communes had insulated people from the costs of having many children. By the late 1980s, economic costs and incentives created by the contract system were already reducing the number of children farmers wanted.
As Hasketh, Lu, and Xing observe: "[T]he policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate. The most dramatic decrease in the rate actually occurred before the policy was imposed. Between 1970 and 1979, the largely voluntary "late, long, few" policy, which called for later childbearing, greater spacing between children, and fewer children, had already resulted in a halving of the total fertility rate, from 5.9 to 2.9. After the one-child policy was introduced, there was a more gradual fall in the rate until 1995, and it has more or less stabilized at approximately 1.7 since then." These researchers note further that China could have expected a continued reduction in its fertility rate just from continued economic development, had it kept to the previous policy.
The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice for violating a human right to determine the size of one's own family. A 2001 report exposed that a quota of 20,000 abortions and sterilizations was set for Huaiji County in Guangdong Province in one year due to reported disregard of the one-child policy. The effort included using portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion candidates in remote villages. Earlier reports also show that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution. There have also been reports of women, in their 9th month of pregnancy or already in labour, having their children killed whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth.
In 2002, China outlawed the use of physical force to make a woman submit to an abortion or sterilization, but it is not entirely enforced. In the execution of the policy, many local governments still demand abortions if the pregnancy violates local regulations.
Although China has had a reputation for heavy-handed eugenics policies as part of its population planning policies, the government has backed away from such policies recently, as evidenced by China's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which compels the nation to significantly reform its genetic testing laws. Recent scholarship has also emphasized the necessity of understanding a myriad of complex social relations that affect the meaning of informed consent in China. Furthermore, in 2003, China revised its marriage registration regulations and couples no longer have to submit to a pre-marital physical or genetic examination before being granted a marriage license.
The United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) funding for this policy led the United States Congress to pull out of the UNFPA during the Reagan years, and again under George W. Bush's presidency, citing human rights abuses and stating that the right to "found a family" was protected under the Preamble in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President Obama resumed U.S. government financial support for the UNFPA shortly after taking office in 2009, intending to "work[ing] collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries".
As the first generation of law-enforced only-children came of age for becoming parents themselves, one adult child was left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. Called the "4-2-1 Problem", this leaves the older generations with increased chances of dependency on retirement funds or charity in order to receive support. If personal savings, pensions, or state welfare fail, most senior citizens would be left entirely dependent upon their very small family or neighbours for assistance. If, for any reason, the single child is unable to care for their older adult relatives, the oldest generations would face a lack of resources and necessities. In response to such an issue, certain provinces maintained that couples were allowed to have two children if both parents were only children themselves. By 2007, all provinces in the nation except Henan had adopted this new adaptation; Henan followed in 2011.
Some parents may over-indulge their only child. The media referred to the indulged children in one-child families as "little emperors". Since the 1990s, some people have worried that this will result in a higher tendency toward poor social communication and cooperation skills among the new generation, as they have no siblings at home. No social studies have investigated the ratio of these over-indulged children and to what extent they are indulged. With the first generation of children born under the policy (which initially became a requirement for most couples with first children born starting in 1979 and extending into 1980s) reaching adulthood, such worries were reduced. However, the "little emperor syndrome" and additional expressions, describing the generation of Chinese singletons are very abundant in the Chinese media, Chinese academy and popular discussions. Being over-indulged, lacking self discipline and having no adaptive capabilities are adjectives which are highly associated with Chinese singletons, The expression of such thoughts is illustrative of how much group prejudice can still affect psychology, with sweeping negative assumptions made about a whole population group, prejudging their characters for a reason that is not their fault, that members of that population group worldwide find offensive.
Some 30 delegates called on the government in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March 2007 to abolish the one-child rule, attributing their beliefs to "social problems and personality disorders in young people". One statement read, "It is not healthy for children to play only with their parents and be spoiled by them: it is not right to limit the number to two children per family, either." The proposal was prepared by Ye Tingfang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who suggested that the government at least restore the previous rule that allowed couples to have up to two children. According to a scholar, "The one-child limit is too extreme. It violates nature’s law. And in the long run, this will lead to mother nature’s revenge."
Government officials and especially wealthy individuals have often been able to violate the policy in spite of fines. For example, between 2000 and 2005, as many as 1,968 officials in central China's Hunan province were found to be violating the policy, according to the provincial family planning commission; also exposed by the commission were 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and 6 senior intellectuals. Some of the offending officials did not face penalties, although the government did respond by raising fines and calling on local officials to "expose the celebrities and high-income people who violate the family planning policy and have more than one child."
A way to escape the strict rules of the one-child policy is for Chinese women to give birth to their second child overseas. A favourite destination was Hong Kong. Hong Kong is exempt from the one-child policy and the Hong Kong passport, which is different from a China mainland passport, provides additional advantages. Recently though, the Hong Kong government has drastically reduced the quota of births set for non-local women in public hospitals. As a result fees for delivering babies there have surged. As further admission cuts or a total ban on non-local births in Hong Kong are being considered, mainland agencies that arrange for expectant mothers to give birth overseas are predicting a surge in those going to North America. As the US practices birthright citizenship children born in the US will be US citizens. The closest option (from China) is Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US dependency in the western Pacific Ocean that allows Chinese visitors without visa restrictions. The island is currently experiencing an upswing in Chinese births. This option is used by relatively affluent Chinese who often have secondary motives as well, wishing their children to be able to leave communist China when they grow older or bring their parents to the US. Canada is less popular as Ottawa denies many visa requests. 
China, like many other Asian countries, has a long tradition of son preference. The commonly accepted explanation for son preference is that sons in rural families may be thought to be more helpful in farm work. Both rural and urban populations have economic and traditional incentives, including widespread remnants of Confucianism, to prefer sons over daughters. Sons are preferred as they provide the primary financial support for the parents in their retirement, and a son's parents typically are better cared for than his wife's. In addition, Chinese tradition holds that daughters, on their marriage, become primarily part of the groom's family. Male-to-female sex ratios in the current Chinese population are high in both rural and urban areas.
The sex ratio at birth (between male and female births) in mainland China reached 117:100 in the year 2000, substantially higher than the natural baseline, which ranges between 103:100 and 107:100. It had risen from 108:100 in 1981—at the boundary of the natural baseline—to 111:100 in 1990. According to a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission, there will be 30 million more men than women in 2020, potentially leading to social instability, and courtship-motivated emigration. The correlation between the increase of sex ratio disparity on birth and the deployment of one child policy would appear to have been caused by the one-child policy.
Other Asian regions also have higher than average ratios, including Taiwan (110:100) and South Korea (108:100), which do not have a family planning policy and the ratio in South Korea was as high as 116:100 in the early 1990s but since then has moved substantially back toward a normal range, with a ratio of 107:100 in 2005. Many studies have explored the reason for the gender-based birth rate disparity in China as well as other countries. A study in 1990 attributed the high preponderance of reported male births in mainland China to four main causes: diseases which affect females more severely than males; the result of widespread underreporting of female births; the illegal practice of sex-selective abortion made possible by the widespread availability of ultrasound; and finally, acts of child abandonment and infanticide. The number of bachelors in China had already increased between 1990 and 2005, implying that China's lack of brides is not solely linked to the one-child policy, as single-child families were only enforced from 1979.
In a recent paper, Emily Oster (2005) proposed a biological explanation for the gender imbalance in Asian countries, including China. Using data on viral prevalence by country as well as estimates of the effect of hepatitis on sex ratio, Oster claimed that Hepatitis B could account for up to 75% of the gender disparity in China.
Monica Das Gupta (2005) has shown that "whether or not females 'go missing' is determined by the existing sex composition of the family into which they are conceived. Girls with no older sisters have similar chances of survival as boys. Girls conceived in families that already have a daughter, experience steeply higher probabilities of being aborted or of dying in early childhood. Gupta claims that cultural factors provide the overwhelming explanation for the "missing" females."
The disparity in the sex ratio at birth increases dramatically after the first birth, for which the ratios remained steadily within the natural baseline over the 20 year interval between 1980 and 1999. Thus, a large majority of couples appear to accept the outcome of the first pregnancy, whether it is a boy or a girl. If the first child is a girl, and they are able to have a second child, then a couple may take extraordinary steps to assure that the second child is a boy. If a couple already has two or more boys, the sex ratio of higher parity births swings decidedly in a feminine direction.
This demographic evidence indicates that while families highly value having male offspring, a secondary norm of having a girl or having some balance in the sexes of children often comes into play. For example, Zeng et al. (1993) reported a study based on the 1990 census in which they found sex ratios of just 65 or 70 boys per 100 girls for births in families that already had two or more boys. A study by Anderson and Silver (1995) found a similar pattern among both Han and non-Han nationalities in Xinjiang Province: a strong preference for girls in high parity births in families that had already borne two or more boys. This evidence is consistent with the observation by another researcher that for a majority of rural families "their ideal family size is one boy and one girl, at most two boys and one girl".
A 2006 review article by the Editorial Board of Population Research (Chinese: 人口研究; pinyin: Rénkǒu Yánjiū), one of China's leading demography journals, argued that only an approach that makes the rights of women central can succeed in bringing down China's high gender ratio at birth and improve the survival rate of female infants and girls. A section written by East China Normal University demography professor Ci Qinying, "Research on the Sex Ratio at Birth Should Take a Gender Discrimination Approach," argued that researchers must pay closer attention to gender issues in demography, and a human rights perspective in demographic research is crucial.
The authors of another review article, "Girl Survival in China: History, Present Situation and Prospects," which was presented at a 2005 conference supported by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), concluded that "The Chinese government has already set the goal of achieving a normal gender ratio at birth by 2010, and to achieve preliminary results in establishing a new cultural outlook on marriage and having children. The government is working to change the system, way of thinking and other obstacles to attacking the root of the problem. Only if equality of males and females is strongly promoted ... will the harmonious and sustainable development of society be possible."
The social pressure exerted by the one-child policy has affected the rate at which parents abandon undesirable children, and many live in state-sponsored orphanages, from which thousands are adopted internationally and by Chinese parents each year. In the 1980s and early 1990s, poor care and high mortality rates in some state institutions generated intense international pressure for reform.
According to Sten Johansson and Ola Nygren (1991) adoptions accounted for half of the so-called "missing girls" in the 1980s in the PRC. Through the 1980s, as the one-child policy came into force, parents who desired a son but bore a daughter in some cases failed to report or delayed the reporting of the birth of the girl to the authorities. But rather than neglecting or abandoning unwanted girls, the parents may have offered them up for formal or informal adoption. A majority of children who went through formal adoption in China in the later 1980s were girls, and the proportion who were girls increased over time (Johansson and Nygren 1991).
The practice of adopting out unwanted girls is consistent with both the son preference of many Chinese couples and the findings of Zeng et al. (1993) and Anderson and Silver (1995) that under some circumstances families have a preference for girls, in particular when they have already satisfied their goals for sons. Research by Weiguo Zhang (2006) on child adoption in rural China reveals increasing receptivity to adopting girls, including by infertile and childless couples.
In 1992, China instituted its first adoption law. Officially registered adoptions increased from about 2,000 in 1992 to 55,000 in 2001. According to one scholar, these figures "represent a small proportion of adoptions in China because many adopted children were adopted informally without official registrations. International adoption rates climbed dramatically after the early 1990s, increasing to the U.S. alone from about 200 in 1992 to more than 7,900 in 2005.
Gender-selected abortion, abandonment, and infanticide are illegal in China. Nevertheless, the US State Department, the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and the human rights organization Amnesty International have all declared that China's family planning programs contribute to infanticide.
Anthropologist G. William Skinner at the University of California–Davis and Chinese researcher Yuan Jianhua have claimed that infanticide was fairly common in China before the 1990s.
Since there are no penalties for multiple births, it is believed that an increasing number of couples are turning to fertility medicines to induce the conception of twins. According to a 2006 China Daily report, the number of twins born per year in China had doubled.[timeframe?]
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