The one-child policy in China has finally ended after more than three decades, which means that married couples will be allowed to have two children from now on.
October 29, the Xinhua News Agency released an an official communiqué on the Communist Party Leaders’ new demographic development plans. The decision was taken by the party officials after a meeting that lasted four days.
In the communiqué it was stated that a new policy shall be implemented, that will allow couples to have not just one child but two.
Party officials decided to take this decision because China is currently facing labour shortage, as well as a rapidly ageing population.
China fist implemented the one-child policy in 1980. The policy was often enforced through forced abortions and forced sterilisations. Chinese people also have a cultural preference for boys, which caused the abortion of female foetuses to rise. According to the World Bank, for every 100 girls there are 112 boys born in China, making it the country with one of the most imbalanced sex ratio.
The policy also had psychological implications for Chinese people. For instance, a study – published January 10, 2013 in the journal Science – that was conducted on more than 400 people in Beijing, found that children born after the policy was implemented were more pessimistic, more hesitant to take risks, and less trusting, compared with those born before the policy went into effect.
In 2007, people were allowed to have two children only if the first-born was a girl, and in 2013 Chinese officials said that people who were only-children themselves, could have more than one child (namely two children).
Even with the policy removed, it is not clear whether China will experience a considerable population growth. The birth-rate failed to rise after the last announcement.
“The birthrate in China is low and its population is ageing quickly. But many parents simply don’t have the economic conditions to raise more children,” Mu Guangzong, a professor of demography at Peking University, said.
The Pew Research Center survey found in 2008 that about three in four Chinese were in favour of the one-child policy. It will take decades until the demographic equilibrium will be restored in China, experts say.
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