In the midst of a rapidly growing population the Chinese government took extreme matters. The food supply was dwindling, as well as general space for people in the already congested China in the late 1970’s. The Chinese government began to take a strong stance on children, specifically having more than one of them. They encouraged abortions, gave away free birth contraceptives, and did their best to educate the people on having safe sex, but to no avail. In the year 1980, they implemented a mandatory policy that shook the entire nation, the One Child Policy. It is just as it sounds, couples where legally only allowed to give birth and raise one child. This is a policy that is still alive and well in China today, but many people are rebelling against this oppressive rule and trying to educate the rest of the world on the effects that it is having. In order to truly understand the magnitude of this policy, you first need to understand what it is, how it is enforced, and how it has affected the Chinese people and the world.
The Pros of the One Child Policy
1. Helps To Ease The Over Population Problems
China has a population of nearly one and a half billion people. They make up almost 20% of the entire world’s population. This is a scary number, especially because it has been consistently on the raise for decades. The food sources, government resources, educational and housing needs, and land in China is dwindling, and fast. This was the main reason that the One Child Policy was implemented in the first place. Since it’s beginning, it has prevented over 400 million births and helped to ease the over population problem.
2. Certain Exceptions Are In Place
Certain circumstances will allow a couple to conceive and give birth to a second child. Very wealthy people can simply pay a (hefty) fine in order to gain the rights to have multiple children. If a couple has a severely handicapped child, they may also be permitted to have another baby. There are, however, no truly clear cut rules on the situation and it is up to the government officials to made a decision with each individual case.
3. Motivating Incentives To Complying Couples
Couples who comply with the One Child Policy, and only parent one baby, are given a certificate stating that they only have a single child. This certificate buys them some pretty good benefits. Some of these include completely interest free loans, subsidies for education and housing, and a much longer maternity leave. All of these things are very beneficial to the Chinese people.
4. A Widely Accepted Policy
Surprisingly, a very large percentage of Chinese people are in favor of the One Child policy and believe that it has had many beneficial affects for the country. It was not nearly as accepted when it was first implemented, this was because of the long rooted tradition in Chinese culture to have large families, but has since becoming much more supported.
5. Greatly Lowered The Poverty Rate
The problem of overcrowding wasn’t just a matter of space. Jobs became very sparse, as well as food and other resources necessary to live a comfortable and healthy life. Because of the huge growth in people, many were living in extreme poverty conditions. After the one child policy took effect, the poverty rate slowly began to decline in the country.
The Disadvantages of the One Child Policy
1. Abortion and Infanticide Rates Climb
The biggest issue with the One Child policy in China is the alarming rate at which children are being killed or abandoned, mostly girls. Since only one child can be had, the overwhelming majority want to have boys. Boys provide labor, money making potential, and a namesake for the family. This fact has surged the amount of infant children, majority girls, who are abandoned or even killed after they are born. Later term abortions are also very common, once the gender of the baby is revealed. Abortion rates are also tremendously high because if a couple already has a child, they are “forced” to abort if they become pregnant with another.
2. The Little Emperor Syndrome
Having an only child, or being an only child, means that the attention and resources of the parents are focused solely on them for their entire lives. This has caused multiple problems among the youth in China. Obesity being one of the most concerning. The child is catered to, over indulged, and given just about anything that they want. This has resulted in lazy and overweight children in most of China. Another issue is the overall attitude of these one child policy offspring. They have a feeling of entitlement and feel as though they are emperors. Hence, “little emperor syndrome”.
3. High Pressure For The Child
If you are your parents only child, many responsibilities and pressures fall upon your shoulders. All of the expectations that your parents have are left for you to achieve, especially when it comes to education and careers. The suicide rate in China is much higher than most other countries because of this stress. Another problem that these children face as they grow older is the fact that they are the only person that can take care of their aging parents and grandparents. This has resulted into a bit of a disaster for China, which is being referred to as the 4-2-1 problem. In Chinese culture, the child takes care of the elders in the family when they are no longer able to take care of themselves. This leaves four grandparents, two parents, and only one child to take care of them all.
4. Major Gender Imbalance
The majority of the population in China is male due to the fact that people can only have one child, and a boy is the only one that can provide money making potential and carry the families name forward. A major imbalance in males and females has resulted for the country. This will cause problems in the near future because it will become increasingly harder for a man to find a wife to bear him children.
5. Other Problems That Are Arising
Some of the other issues that the One Child Policy in China has been causing for the country are a dwindling workforce. The population is still massive, but now the majority of Chinese people are elderly, leaving not enough people to sustain the countries massive labor needs. Another major problem with this policy is the infringement it has on the moral and ethical values that a family wishes to adopt.