The one-child policy was established in 1979 by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese communist leader, who aimed to limit the uncontrolled growth of Chinese population in order to alleviate the struggle for scarce resources. Despite the fact that the policy was supposed to be temporary, it continued twenty five years after its endorsement. Although, the main goal of the policy was reached and 300 million births had been prevented, it seems that the one-child policy has more drawbacks than advantages. On the one hand, one child families have many economic benefits. A “one-child glory certificate” offers higher wages and retirement funds, interest-free loans and better/new housing. Single children have special benefits, such as free and better healthcare, education and government jobs.
On the other hand, the one-child policy undermines the notion of maternity since Chinese women are forced to undergo involuntary abortions (even late-term) and sterilization, which negatively influence woman’s reproductive health and put under question woman’s fertility in general. Secondly, this doctrine causes an acute gender imbalance, which results in the prevalent number of males. What makes the matter worse is that better healthcare system and one-child policy increase the number of aging population. Consequently, elderly people become more dependent on the constantly decreasing number of their young relatives, for whom it may be simply impossible to provide support as they are single children in a family. Therefore, having considered the advantages and disadvantages of the policy in question, one may reasonably claim that the one-child policy is rather a failure than success.
No one would deny the fact that every woman has a holy mission of giving a birth to a child and that the notion of maternity is sacred. The one-child policy, however, deprives a woman of the possibility to enjoy the happiness of motherhood, turning the latter in a constant struggle for her health and life of her potential child. The idea of violating the policy is rather frightening since it leads to simply immoral actions of the officials. In this case, it is not spoken of fines, which vary from $370 to $12,800 and may often make up the average annual income of average Chinese people, but of distinctly inhumane deeds. In the 1980s, Mao Hengfeng got pregnant with the second child. She got fired, was compelled to have an abortion, and sent to a psychiatric hospital. Further, the woman was sent to a labor camp and, according to some reports, was even tortured there.
This is not a single case of the inhumane punishment imposed on families who dared to disobey the rules. In the mid-2000s, Shandong authorities invaded the homes of families who had more than one child. The officials demanded to sterilize parents with two children and forced women, who expected the third child, to undergo abortion. One woman dared to disobey. As a result, she was forcibly taken to a clinic, made to sign a form, and a doctor performed a sterilization operation in ten minutes only. Another case says that relatives of a woman who had to deliver a child in two months were imprisoned. They received no food and were tortured until the woman gave in and underwent the abortion, during which a doctor killed the fetus with a needle inserted into a mother’s uterus.
Botched sterilizations, which seriously harm women’s health, are also quite common. The point is that such interventions are cheap and are performed hastily by insufficiently trained surgeons, which leads to a great number of complications and infections. More “humane” measures taken to prevent more than one-child birth imply that every woman would get an IUD implantation after she delivered the first child and undergo routine examinations to ensure that the IUD is in place. Every woman who can potentially bear a child is controlled by the local councils. If she refuses to have an abortion or get sterilized, she would either be beaten up or her house would be destroyed. Unfortunately, the authorities do not care that an induced abortion causes infertility in 88.2% cases, and that the infertility rate increases to 92% after four repeated abortions (allgirlsallowed.org).
The fate of extra children born to parents who decided to disobey the policy is inexorable. Very often they do not get the birth certificate and proper documents, which reject their access to free education and healthcare system. Undocumented life makes it impossible for illegal children to enter schools, find legal job in the future, and to be recognized as the society member. Undocumented or “black permit” children cannot live with their parents and are often hidden in the families of aunts, uncles, and siblings in order not to be detected by the authorities. Nevertheless, extra children may be documented, if their parents agree to pay a fine. On balance, some estimations show that China numbers six millions undocumented/illegal children. Most of these “black permit” babies are supposed to be females.
The one-child policy also leads to a sharp gender imbalance. From the standpoint of the Chinese culture, boys are more preferable than girls. Therefore, female infanticide is a widespread phenomenon as a family would kill or abandon their daughters in order to give birth to a baby boy. This practice was also common before 1949, and the one-child policy brought female infanticide back. The gender imbalance became even more evident after 1986, when abortions and ultrasound tests became more popular. Despite the fact that prenatal sex screening was banned in China in 1994, The British American Journal reported that China still has 32 million less girls than boys under the age of twenty.
A lack of females makes it difficult for men to find a woman, marry, and create a healthy family. This, in turn, leads to the increasing number of prostitutes, cases of kidnapping, venereal diseases, and AIDS as well. At the same time, the predominance of “valuable” men may increase the competitive relationships, which would cause more aggression and violence. The predominance of males, however, does not solve the problem of the work force. Many factories have recently claimed that they face the shortage of youth labor. In 2007, for every retiree, there were six adult people of working age. By 2040, this ratio is supposed to decrease to two to one.
Another great drawback of the one-child policy is that it has caused the domination of the aging population over the child population. The Chinese population is rapidly aging. The number of adolescents under the age of fourteen decreased by 6.3% between 2000 and 2010, whereas the number of people aged over sixty increased by 1.91% (Hays, 2012). The Chinese fertility rate makes up 1.5 children per family, which really undermines the Chinese nation future. Moreover, the one-child policy brings to life the “4:2:1” ratio. This implies that a married couple is obliged to support their four parents as well as a child. Therefore, a single daughter or a son is supposed to take care of the whole family. If he/she turns out to be unable to provide for their parents and grandparents, the latter are likely to be left with their problems alone. Due to a lack of pension funds, 70% of elderly Chinese people are completely dependent on younger relatives.
All things considered, the effects of the one-child policy are rather destructive than beneficial. Its rewards in the form of financial promotion and free access to education and healthcare sustem are likely to become useless with the decline of the younger generation. Forced abortions and sterilizations lead to the alarmingly fast aging of population and the predominance of men, which put under question the survival of the Chinese nation.