China's One Child Policy

Crazy laws

What happens if you try to stop families from reproducing?

China has more people than any other country in the world at over 1.3 billion people, which make up almost twenty percent of the world population. Struggling to support its huge population and keep up with resource consumption, China knew it had to do something to control its growth. What China did shocked the world.

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced the One Child Policy in 1979, which made it illegal for many families to have more than one child. There were some exceptions made for people in rural areas or belonging to minority ethnic groups, but in general, one child per family was the new law of the land.

Whilst it seems nuts to assume that a government can regulate the number of children people have, the consequences of this crazy law were totally unexpected. One of the first things that happened was that pregnant couples began to want male children more than female children, to the point where many took extreme measures to insure their one child was a boy. Some couples aborted female foetuses, while others killed female infants at birth. Many more little girls were abandoned to orphanages.

The consequence of this preference for male children is an unbalanced equation. As the first male children born under China's One Child Policy come of age, they're looking around for suitable mates and finding a shortage. Some Chinese men are looking overseas for wives, and some are leaving the country altogether.

So what happens to couples who get pregnant a second time? Some women are pressured to abort the fetus, while others living in rural areas have been attacked until they miscarried. Women who carry the second baby to full term are much less likely to seek medical attention during the pregnancy or during the birth, which has led many women and children to die unnecessarily. Assuming everything goes well, couples with more than one child face social stigmatization and heavy fines. And China itself faces severe social unrest from tens of millions of sexually frustrated males!

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