One-child policy to blame for China’s skewed sex ratio

TNN | Jan 4, 2016, 03.37 AM IST


From January 1, China allowed married couples to have two children. The move comes after concerns over an aging population and shrinking workforce.From January 1, China allowed married couples to have two children. The move comes after concerns over an agin… Read More
When was the one child policy implemented in China?

By the late 1970s, China’s population was rapidly approaching the one billion mark and this worried policy makers who feared that the pressure of population on resources may impede the country’s growth.

As a result, family planning was deemed a crucial part of the country’s overall economic and social policies. The first voluntary family planning campaign started during the same period. Launched under the slogan ‘Late, long and few’, the campaign advocated delaying of marriage, having fewer children and increasing the gap between two children.

The programme had limited success and was soon replaced by the one child policy. In 1978, a family planning policy was started which encouraged couples not to have more than two children, one child being more preferable.

Later, in September 1980, the central committee of the communist party wrote an open letter to all members asking them to adhere to the one child policy. This is often considered the official start date of the programme.

Was it mandatory for every family to have one child?

Depending on the province, area of residence as well as ethnicity, there were many exemptions. China’s ethnic minorities, which constituted about 8% of its population, were exempt from the policy. Couples living in rural areas also had many exemptions.

As the policy was enforced at provincial level, enforcement varied from province to province as some had relaxed restrictions. There were other relaxations, like when both parents were only children (neither having siblings) they were allowed to have two children.

How was the policy enforced?

The policy was enforced by various measures that included aggressive campaigns, incentive to the people opting for it and penalties to those who did not comply.

The government gave various incentives and preferential treatment to couples who adhered to the policy including longer maternity leave, better health care facilities and various forms of government subsidies.

Those who did not follow it were subjected to penalties that were dubbed as their social obligation or compensation to the society for having more children.


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