Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pragmatic reform in an ideological state?

The Chinese do make pragmatic changes in the name of giving "Chinese characteristics" to things like socialism. Can the powers that be do something similar with the one child policy?

Thanks to Beverley Clinch, who teaches in Managua, Nicaragua, for directing me to this article.

Reforming the one-child policy
FOR more than three decades the bureaucrats who enforce China’s one-child policy have been among the most ubiquitous, and the most despised, in the country. They are now to lose much of their power, after a government reshuffle…

[T]he reorganisation… will merge the family-planning bureaucracy, created purely to control population growth, with the health ministry to form a new Health and Family Planning Commission. Officials have vowed that this does not mean the one-child policy is about to come to an end. But public scrutiny of the policy is growing, along with pressure to loosen or scrap it altogether.

A little prince
Chinese demographers say the… labour pool is shrinking (by 3.45m in 2012… the ratio of taxpayers to pensioners will decline from almost five to one to just over two to one by 2030… and there are fewer children to support their parents…

Some experts say that scrapping it would make little difference in practice… But political leaders still fear that such a reform would result in a sudden burst of population growth, and so far they have held fast, despite the pleas of demographers…

Meanwhile the emerging consequences of the one-child policy are openly discussed in state media. Reports about one social problem—elderly parents whose only child has died—recently featured on national television…

A once unassailable pillar of government control is suddenly looking fragile.

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