China: A policy that changed the world, but at what price for women? Print E-mail
  2006;333:361-362 (19 August)

Editorial

China's one child policy 

The policy that changed the world

Scroll down for Chinese women want small families and male children

Only the first 150 words of the full text of this article appear below.

T
he Chinese one child policy is unique in the history of the world. It was a source of great pain for one generation, but a generation later it began to yield important economic benefits. For China, and the world as a whole, the one child policy was one of the most important social policies ever implemented.

Rapid population growth is an unforgiving task master. Even with the one child policy-as a result of the high birth rate a generation before-China still has one million more births than deaths every five weeks. The Chinese State Council launched the policy in 1979, "so the rate of population growth may be brought under control as soon as possible." However, the root cause of the policy lay back in the 1960s with Mao Zedong's belief that "the more people, the stronger we are"-an ideology that prevented China from developing the highly successful voluntary . . .

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 2006;333 (19 August)

Chinese women want small families and male children

Since the Chinese policy of one child per family began in 1979, total birth rate and preferred family size have decreased, and a gross imbalance in the sex ratio has emerged. Ding and Hesketh (p 371) analysed data for almost 40 000 women collected by the Chinese National Family Planning Commission in 2001. Women's average fertility had decreased from 2.9 before the policy began by about one, the male to female ratio had increased from 1.11 in the 1980s to 1.23, and most women said they would prefer to have one or two children. However, the authors warn that the women might not have been willing to reveal violations of the rules.