China’s one child policy


It is so obvious that controlling populations is so advantageous but we can not afford to ignore the fact that it comes along with some negative influences such as gender inequality, female infanticide, and old age security as it is being portrayed by the one-child policy. The policy was perceived to lessen the size and importance of matrilineal linage and encourage women to make modernized career decisions.

This paper will provide a detailed discussion of one child policy in China since 1978 till today and the effects this has on population and other socio-economic factors. The discussion will also cover how the policy has affected individuals on either side of gender divisions for it is very evident that one child policy has largely contributed to inequality in gender in china.


In the quest to control population, the government of china came up with one child policy which refers to a restriction of one child on almost every family. This policy was introduced in 1978 but was initially applied to the children who were born in the year 1979. The main aim of this policy is to restrict the number of children that couples in urban areas can have to only one (Ding and Hesketh, 372).

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The purpose of creating this policy by the Chinese government was to lessen environmental, societal and economic problems that were being experienced in china. Though the policy has been effective in preventing more than two hundred and fifty million births, it has been a contentious issue both inside and outside china. It has been controversial due to the fact that it brought out negative social consequences such as underreporting of feminine births, forced abortions and womanly infanticide (Banister, 35).

In order to enforce this policy in the provincial level, fines have been imposed basing on the revenue generated by each family and other general factors. In every level of the government there exist family planning and population control commissioners whose mandate is to ensure that they carry out assessment and registration work so as to facilitate the policy. Despite having this policy the people of china are continuing to have more than one child.


Barbara and Brian (220) expressed the concern that, following economic breakdown, the government of china resulted to an ambitious plan of market reforms which could see the drop in population growth. In the year 1979 china population consisted of a quarter of world population and was considered to occupy just seven percent of the world. In order to have decent living standards and to achieve a good economic reform, the government saw the need to control the population of China, therefore, the introduction of the one-child policy.

The one-child policy consisted of several rules and regulations which would govern the size of each family in china. The rules and regulations included restrictions on the size of the family, the spacing between children, late marriages and the rate in conceiving. Festini allude to the premise (967), the one-child rule was to be applied to minority population who were found in government working stations and urban residents. In areas such as rural, a second child was only allowed after five years only in the exception that if the first child was a girl.

The policy greatly involves the use of contraceptives. Most of the women have no choice on the kind of contraceptive but to rely on the method been advised by the family planning commissioner. The continuous use of contraceptives reduces the number of abortions been performed illegally. Due to the policy, there are many deliveries that are not official sanctioned that occur at home withou6t the presence of trained personnel.

What was the impact of one child policy on women?

It is very unfortunate that women have been greatly affected by the implementation of one-child policy. Though there are certain ways in which the policy has affected women positively, it is evident that negative effects are more compared to the positive effects.

Since the implementation of the policy by the Chinese government, it has positively and negatively affected women in the society. Due to the predominance of traditional practices, the policy forced the society to have an attitude that favored male as compared to their female counterparts. Women are considered as individuals who stay home taking care of families whereas men were supposed to go and look for greener pastures (Browne, 1). Though it is very evident that the Chinese government is working very hard in ensuring that the traditional low standards of women are raised, women are still experiencing some forms of discrimination.

Although the initial intention of one child policy was not to advance women status, it generally created opportunities for urban girls to pursue higher learning. It has forced many families to change their way of thinking that sons are their only hope for the future. The one-child policy has dramatically reduced the numbers of years spend by women during bearing and rising of children. The policy has offered women ample time to venture deeper into their careers without the worry of having to take leave in order to raise children.

Carey (1) states, it is evident that many couples in the urban environment have accepted the fact that daughters are there the source of hope since the introduction of one-child policy. The girl child is advised and encouraged to pursue higher education. It is clear that societies really respect and appreciates a well educated women compared to uneducated man. One child policy has favored women in one way through making them successors in their workplaces due to their changed value brought about by the policy. Women no longer rely upon their families in the provision of their daily need rather; they are highly motivated and devoted in building their careers.

Other than benefiting women in their career paths, one-child policy has created burden to women in the sense that girls are left to take care of the large number of elderly individuals. Most women are forced to work over time keeping in mind that they will still take care of the older people i.e. their parents, husbands and some grandparents.

Cases of missing girls

According to Wang (1), it is evident that since the establishment of one child policy, there has been a great preferential treatment towards boys as compared to men. Although the government of china has cleared ruled out that sex selection as illegal, it is very evident that it is happening in most part of the country. Sex selection has lead to high number of missing girls such that around ten percent of men born in the year 1980 and 2000 will not be able to find wives.

The policy has also been criticized to have contributed to discrimination in gender. Faced with tough decisions about the general number, the Chinese girl child has become dispensable. If not aborted many Chinese girls end up in orphanages where they are less chances for them to be educated and obtain medical care. It has been observed that since the introduction of the policy there have been reported cases of suicide among women during their reproductive stages as compared to men. Due to pressure exerted to conceive a desirable child, there have been perceived reduction in valuing women as compared to that of their counterparts (Kane and Choi, 400).

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According to Hesketh and Zing (40), due to the pressure exerted by the one-child policy, there have been many cases of parents abandoning undesired children. Parents who desired to conceive a boy but ended up conceiving a girl did not report the birth to authorities but rather they rejected or abandon the girl. Most girls have been found to undergo formal adoption as compared to boys. Most women find them selves being kidnapped and sold into marriage due to gender imbalance in china. In schools girls were forced to be more aggressive so as to deal with their masculine counterparts.

Female infanticide

According to Johnson (87), female infanticides have been noted as a common practice in china since the implementation of one-child policy. Statistics shows that the rate of infant mortality in female is considerably higher as compared to that of men. Gender imbalance in china has been evident due to increase rate in female infanticide.

According to Milwertz (30), Statistics show that in the nineteenth century, despite of women having borne one hundred and eighty-three sons and one hundred and seventy-five daughters’ only one twenty-six sons and fifty-three daughters survived for a number of 40 women who were interviewed. The high rates of female infanticide have been associated to the implementation of one child policy this has contributed to the sharp trend being portrayed in missing of girls.

Due to uneven gender distribution, male children were favored as compared to the female counterparts. Girl child were killed so as to create chances of giving birth to a male child. Decrease to the number of women lead to high rates in prostitutions in china.

Use of contraceptives

Hao (179) states that, most couples have resulted into fertility medicines which allow them to have multiple births. Due to the fact that there are no penalties for those with multiple children in their first births, the usage of these drugs can result to side effects which may reduce fertility in women. According to statistics the rate at which china is recording multiple births has significantly doubled by the year 2006. In addition to issuing out free contraceptives, family planning offices have ensured that women receive free pre and post natal classes. These contraceptives are considered to have negative effect on the girl child especially when they are introduced to them at an early age. Girls end up misusing these contraceptives and they are forced to bear the harsh consequences.

What was the impact of one child policy on man?

The implementation of one child policy has generally affected male the same way it has greatly affected women. Although it has not created a greater impact on men as compared to women there is need to focus on some of the issues.

Cases of bachelorhood

Studies have clearly indicated that more than twenty-four million Chinese men who have attained the age of getting married are unlikely in finding women to marry come the year 2020. It is very evident that most of Chinese mothers have aborted their baby girls. Due to abortion being legal most children who are girls have been aborted leaving men with no enough women to marry. It has been noted that since the implementation of the policy the number of men in ages which are considered to be that of being married whereas that of women is constantly decreasing.

According to Johnson (87), trafficking of young women in china has been noted as a major concern by the Chinese government. Researchers have noted that it is a common experience for younger women in china to be kidnapped and later sold to man in another part of the country so that she can become her bride. Unattached men are more likely to engage and participate in crimes and other social unrest as compared to men who are married.

It is very saddening that most of the Chinese men have give up hope in finding a wife. Most men who are in rural areas are going mad due to the fact that they can not be able to cope up with the pressure exerted to them in the finding of a bride (Kang and Wang, 98). Last year more than ten thousand women who were being sold to become wives were freed by the Chinese authorities. Wealthy men are able to find themselves wives whereas the poor are left to indulge in prostitution.

Changing family dynamics where male are left with parenting practices

According to Hesketh and Zing (40), collective cultural selection for a boy child and the general pattern of the Chinese society has greatly contributed to a family dynamic where the boy child are often doted on leading them to a situation where they do not develop any suitable social skills. This change in family dynamic has lead to the phenomena known as 4:2:1 which consists of four lenient grandparents, two very busy and non-disciplinant parents and one spilt and lazy boy child.

It is known that men are not sufficient in household tasks, due to their predominance their have been rapid growth of full-time baby cares and boarding schools where children are brought up. It is evident that due to the upcoming of different family dynamics, their have been growth of different cultures and social practices around china (Zheng, 320).

Change in culture

Traditionally it was considered that big families which consisted many boys was a blessing thus creating a situation where a family with many boys was regarded as high in that particular society. However, since the implementation of one child policy which was there to control population reversed this cultural norm (Kang and Wang, 92).

What are the effects brought about by the one-child policy on gender equality?

The one-child policy has brought tremendous effects on the people of china and its government at large. The effects are divided into two i.e. that of population growth and those that concerns social life.

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Effect on sex ratio i.e. between male and women (gender imbalance)

The sex ratio i.e. that of female to female live birth is considered to be 1.03 to 1.07 in countries that are considered to be industrialized. Since the implementation of the one-child policy there has been an increase in recorded sex ratio that is from 1.06 in 1979, to 1.11 in 1988, to 1.17 in the year 2001. In rural areas there have been higher reported sex ration with a sex ration of 1.05 for the first birth and a steep rise in the subsequent births. In urban areas the sex ratio has been considered to be 1.13 for the first births and peaks at 1.30 for subsequent births (Ding and Hesketh 370).

It is perceived that sex-selection abortion and non registration of female births has contributed to the increased sex ratio. Though selective abortion is illegal it is performed by a mushrooming private sector. The government of china has come up with the idea that gender imbalance has brought about social problems (Zheng, 320). For instance, it has generated the increase of mental health, kidnapping, unruly behavior among men and the trafficking of women for marriages. The gender imbalance has contributed to the rise of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.

What is the future of the one-child policy on gender equality?

Despite the success of this policy, the Chinese government is still being faced with the challenge of balancing the population growth and ensuring that there is gender equality within the nation. In making decision in regard to the future there are certain factors that need to be considered. Firstly, it is very important that the relaxation of the policy to be considered only if the ambition revolving fertility does not give rise to a baby boom. It is evident that since the introduction of the policy china is becoming a culture consisting of small families. A surveyed showed that thirty-five percent of women preferred to have one child whereas 57% preferred having two children. Most women preferred having a boy as compared to a girl (Zheng, 317).

Secondly, Wealth and globalization has empowered women into knowing their rights and the decisions they partake in the size of family they want. It is pretty so obvious that china has undergone numerous socioeconomic growths in the last twenty-five years. Due to the effect of globalization, the one-child policy is increasingly becoming outdated (Barbara and Brian, 220). Increase in wealth and globalization may make it for the Chinese government to enforce any policies that regard population. It is important that the government to note that increased freedom in movement have made it difficult for the family control teams to track down people who do not comply with the regulations stipulated in the policy.

Finally, the government should take into account that the high evidence of slow growth in population, increase numbers of elderly people and gender imbalance clearly suggest that there should be a relaxation in the one-child policy.

Having considered the above factors the government will be able to change its focus toward gender equality. It is very important that the government is able to educate its citizen that every child has rights to education, better living standards and better health care regardless of its sex.


Though the policy has been faced by many criticisms it is evident that the implementation of this policy has greatly improved the standards’ of living of the Chinese people. It is important that the Chinese government to make changes on this bill so as to avoid violating human rights. These changes can be attained by educating people on the importance of having a manageable population. Educating individuals especially those in rural areas will be advantageous since they will get information on effects of having a large population with minimal resources (Festini, 968).

The government in china should be at the forefront in ensuring that no child is discriminated due to its sex. It should create centers which should be responsible in educating couples that a child is a child regardless of its sex and that every child has a right to education, better shelter, better health facilities and food. The government should shun sex-selective abortion so as to curb the issue of gender imbalance (Banister, 69).

It is very evident that since the introduction of the one-child policy individuals have been able to save. This saving has helped both men and women to be able to manage their finances in establishment of a secure future. Chinese household have been considered to expend little in the terms of money and time due to the fact that most of these households consist of one child (Banister, 38). Because of low expenditures most of the Chinese families are able to save money which is later used in investment. Since older generation can not fully rely on the younger generation in future they are left with the need of saving so that they are able to have basic necessities in the future (Hao 180).

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