China’s One Child Policy

The Chinese government introduced the one child policy in 1979 in order to slow down China’s population growth. Every year China’s population grows by ten million, putting a strain on the country which leads to social, economic, and environmental problems. However, it is only married/ urban couples that have to follow this law. Families that live in the countryside or families who have a daughter as a first child get permission to have another child.  I’m going to look at the different attitudes towards the one child policy between generations in China. Looking at numbers alone there has been a significant decline in births and it has proven successful in population control, however this policy is very controversial and has led to many unhappy and suffering families.


  • It’s estimated that the single child policy has prevented over 400 million births.
  • It has been proven successful in cities and has provided a better education for many children
  • It allows parents to spend much more time and energy on their child.
  • Families that have supported the family planning policy will receive benefits from the Chinese Government such as health care and education.


  • Since the single child policy was introduced there has been many reported stolen children and it was estimated that over 70, 000 children are kidnapped every year.
  • Parents find that single children can find it difficult to make friends and they can feel lonely because they have no brother or sisters.
  • Government Officials lose their job if they have more than one child.
  • Chinese culture traditionally prefer boys which results in a significantly larger amount of men than women in China.
  • People believe the policy has led to baby girls being killed, sold, or put up for adoption.
  • China’s population is living longer. The first children born under the single-child policy face the prospect of caring for an increasing number of pensioners.
  • The country also faces problems of men who can’t find wives due to female foetuses being aborted, resulting in a large gender imbalance.

An article featured on the BBC website by a man called Weiliang Nie looks at whether or not he thinks the single child policy is a fail or success. He grew up in China in the 1960s and 70s before the one child policy had been introduced and families were allowed to have as many children as they liked. Weiliangs’ parents had four children which was common for families living in this time period. However his generation now have to follow the one child policy which has come at a painful cost. He refers to one of his childhood friends’ who has had a second child, a daughter, yet she is registered as someone else’s child. When he does see his daughter she has to call him uncle in order for him to keep his secret and prevent the large fine he would receive. Some families however, don’t mind paying the money to have a second child as they believe it is worth it and benefits the other sibling as they are less lonely.

Another growing problem that has resulted from the single child policy is the gender imbalance. This is a very serious issue in China as more than 24 million men could find themselves without spouses as there are just not enough women. One of the main reasons that has lead to this problem is the large numbers of women who have abortions if they are pregnant with a female baby. As I mentioned earlier in the disadvantages, China’s traditional culture favours boys over girls and many families still carry this tradition.  The latest figures show that for every 100 girls born in China, 119 boys are born. This gender ratio will not only lead to men having no spouses but also inter-generational marriages, where the wife is older than the husband.


Last summer I worked with a girl called Chenchen, aged 23, who was an only child due to the one child policy and was lucky enough to send her some questions to answer.

1)      Do you think the one child policy was a good idea?

Answer: I’m not sure. It was a good idea in that it reduced population growth however I know lots of friends and families who would have liked to have more children.

2)      Would you have liked to have had a brother or sister?

Answer: Yes I would have, but I was never lonely. I had lots of friends at school who also had no siblings, so we had a lot in common. But it would have been nicer at home to have another sibling.

3)      You now live in Scotland. Has this changed the way you feel about the policy?

Answer:  Well I work with people who have lots of brothers and sisters and it does seem very different. They talk about how they argue and fight which I obviously never had.

4)      When you start your family, how many children would you like?

Answer: I wouldn’t want a big family. It depends if I stay in Scotland or move back to China. But ideally I think I would like 2.

5)      Did your parents have a lot of brothers and sisters? And did they want more than one child?

Answer: Yes they both grew up in large families. Yes, especially my mother, as she grew up with 2 sisters and 1 brother, whom she is very close with.  However they couldn’t afford to have another child.

 Overall it seems like there are different opinions on the single child policy depending on the generations. My friend from work seemed quite comfortable being a single child but she does mention how her parents feel completely different. I suppose if they were brought up in big families it must have been really strange to then only be allowed one child. This is a very controversial topic but it’s very interesting to read about as it seems so different to how things are in Britain.

1 thought on “China’s One Child Policy

  1. Pingback: The Shocking Face Of China’s Brutal One Child Policy | WRC559

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