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The ‘Fruits’ of China’s One-Child Policy

China has a “graying” problem. The one-child policy, introduced over three decades ago, has resulted in an imbalance. Fewer young people and an expanding over-60 population reduces the productive workforce. And unlike the United States, China doesn’t have a large elder care system.

The country relaxed the one-child policy in recent years. Rural couples are allowed a second child if the first is a girl, and couples in which either parent is an only child can have a second.

The BBC reported that China has changed its birth policy again. All couples can now have two children. An excerpt:

Correspondents say that despite the relaxation of the rules, many couples may still opt to only have one child, as one-child families have become the social norm.

Critics say that even a two-child policy will not boost the birth rate enough, the BBC’s John Sudworth reports.

And for those women who want more than two children, nor will it end the state’s insistence on the right to control their fertility, he adds.

“As long as the quotas and system of surveillance remains, women still do not enjoy reproductive rights,” Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch told AFP.

China also has a sex-ratio problem. There are 118.06 boys for every 100 girls, which means a shortage of wives for the men. (The natural sex ratio is 105 boys born for every 100 girls.) But neither the government nor the parents thought through social consequences of so many unattached men.

More important is the policy prevented 400 million people from being born. Think of all those second-pregnancy babies aborted, and the first-pregnancy baby girls killed because parents wanted their allotted child to be a boy. People respond to incentives. Daughters are considered liabilities and sons assets.

Although China banned sex-selective abortions, did it matter when the same government banned people from growing families the way they wanted?

Sex-selective abortion might not be a big issue in the United States, but it does happen. Pro-life lawmakers re-introduce the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would bar an abortionist from killing an unborn baby based on sex, to no avail.

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