An “End” to China’s One Child Policy?

By Amy Hanser & Jialin Camille Li

China-one babyIn October 2015, the Chinese government announced new changes to the country’s birth planning policy, now allowing all couples to have two children.  This change, widely characterized outside of China as an “end” to the “one child policy,” was in fact just the most recent loosening of a policy that has historically been far more complex than simply limiting all Chinese families to a single child.  The motive behind the elimination of the single-child limit, as well as many of the earlier alterations to the policy that had already expanded the types of families allowed to have two children, has been concern about China’s rapidly aging population and the demographic imbalance that will result, as an increasingly elderly population must be supported by a (relatively) smaller working-age population.  While this is not a challenge unique to China, the aging population is understood to be a direct consequence of restrictive family planning policies that purportedly produced a rapid decline in fertility and by extension this demographic imbalance. If restricting family size  to a single child is the cause of the problem, then logically the solution lay in the policy change to allow families to have two children (and encouraged to do so with expanded maternity leave). Ironically, this policy change harkens back to the early 1970s, when the country introduced a two-child limit which was considered the appropriate size for urban families. Continue reading “An “End” to China’s One Child Policy?”