China Lifts One-Child Policy - "Bachay Do hi Achay"
China has ended its one-child policy, saying Thursday the controversial approach to population control will be relaxed to allow all couples to give birth to two children.
The change was announced in a one-line update from Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, early Thursday evening, capping a tumultuous era of coercive family planning that often horrified the outside world.
Enacted in 1980, enforcement of the one-child policy was the strictest and most long-standing of a series of efforts to put a cap on China’s burgeoning population. Those efforts brought hardship to huge numbers of Chinese homes, through forced contraception and abortions that stained the country’s human rights record. From 1971 onward, China conducted 336 million abortions, completed 196 million sterilizations, and inserted 403 million intrauterine devices.
The one-child policy was initially intended to prevent over-population. But it has created a deeply skewed demographic curve for China, which now faces a large and fast-graying population and far fewer young people to support the old. By 2030, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences expects China to be the grayest society on Earth: Today, the country counts almost five taxpayers for each person drawing a pension; by 2030, the ratio will fall to roughly 2:1.
Economic reasons have pushed China to loosen the policy, most recently by allowing two children to any couple who are both themselves single children. That change, however, produced far fewer new births than officials expected, as a young generation of Chinese forgoes larger families, often because raising a child in modern China can carry a heavy cost.
China has claimed that its one-child policy spared 400 million births, but demographers have said most of the reduction in child-bearing rates happened before the policy was enacted. The one-child policy itself may have prevented 100 million births.
In a recent paper, demographers Wang Feng, Yong Cai and Baochang Gu concluded that history will “likely view this policy as a very costly blunder.”
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