Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One and one child?

There is "talk" in China about the one child policy — at least among academics.

The child in time
Rumblings of discontent over the one-child policy have been growing louder, stirred by debate over whether it is needed now that the first children born under it face the prospect of caring for an ever-increasing number of pensioners. A report last month by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a leading government think-tank, said officials were seriously overestimating the fertility rate (the number of children an average woman can expect to have in her lifetime). Rather than suppress the rate, suggested the report, the government should try to lift it…

Yicheng, county in the northern province of Shanxi… [has] been trying a two-child policy for 25 years. Despite its more relaxed regulations, the county has a lower-than-average population growth rate. It also has a smaller-than-average imbalance between boys and girls. Elsewhere a traditional preference for boys, combined with the one-child policy, has resulted in widespread abortions of baby girls…

Rural residents are usually allowed to have a second if the first is a girl (typically after a gap of four years). Ethnic minorities can have more. Many places have started allowing parents who themselves lack siblings to have two offspring. A senior family-planning official said in 2007 that in effect the one-child policy applied to less than 40% of the population.

The government, however, shows little inclination to scrap it… In February… an official said it would remain unchanged at least until 2015.

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