China relaxes control of population growth
According to a report by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the Communist Party of China decided at its Central Committee meeting yesterday to further relax the one-child policy introduced in 1979 and change it to a two-child policy. The decision still needs to be confirmed by the People’s Congress to take effect.
The one-child policy was implemented in China in different ways locally through a mixed system of high compensation payments to the state ("shehui fuyang fei") and utility incentives were enforced: one-child families were given preference in health care, pensions, vacations, and housing. There were, however, exceptions to the "Population and family planning measures"For example, more children were due to members of more than 50 ethnic minorities – differentiated according to whether they lived in urban, rural or undeveloped areas.
Other exceptions to the one-child rule applied to divorcees. Twins and triplets were not a disadvantage for the parents either. This led to hormone treatments for infertility, which significantly increase the likelihood of multiple pregnancies, being used even by healthy women, because they wanted to avoid compensation payments.
In recent years, the one-child policy had already been relaxed several times. 2013 couples were granted a second child if one of the spouses was an only child. Previously, this exception only applied when both the male and female grew up without siblings (cf. Slight relaxation of the one-child policy).
However, the expected increase in the birth rate did not materialize: Observers suspected that this was related, among other things, to the relatively high costs (cf. China’s hoped-for baby boom is not happening). This failure to increase births may have been one of the reasons for the further relaxation that has now taken place, three years before the policy was due for review.
"Father" of the one-child policy: Deng Xiaoping. Photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States.
The reason for the introduction of the one-child policy was a quasi-doubling of the population in the 30 years from 1950 to 1980. During the 1970s, attempts were made to limit population growth through propaganda alone – this succeeded in reducing the birth rate to some extent, but only from an average of almost six to just under three children per family. Then Deng Xiaoping propagated a system of incentives and punishments to break the vicious circle of overpopulation and underdevelopment and to achieve progress through better education.
The one-child policy actually changed attitudes toward children: not only were only children given more care, but also more education – in the parents’ own interest, as the single child’s higher income increased their chances of receiving benefits in old age. Thus, even in traditionally uneducated classes, the leap out of misery could be made.
A double-edged sword, however, were the disadvantages introduced as a deterrent for the training, which ensured that not only the parents, but also the children were disadvantaged. The gross social disparities in China today were also caused by parents: poor migrant workers are often sons of peasants who did not follow the one-child rules; programmers, engineers and businesswomen in the cities, on the other hand, are often only children.