For 32 years, China has enforced a one-child policy to curb their booming population growth. This policy has led to a number of societal issues, many of them stemming from the desire for that one child to be male. This desire has led to the widespread abortion of female fetuses as well as infanticide, with female newborns commonly snatched from their mothers’ arms and faced with an uncertain fate, even if they are permitted to live – which is by no means guaranteed.
The result is what has become a dangerously unbalanced population, leaving a significant number of young Chinese men unable to marry and start a family, and thus more prone to involvement in antisocial activities. It’s also left the younger generation the crippling responsibility of supporting their parents and grandparents as Chinese tradition demands – as many as six individuals – with no assistance from siblings, a situation even the government recognizes as intolerable.
In light of these pressures, the Chinese government is rumored to be considering relaxing the one-child policy. Certain exemptions are already in place. For example, couples consisting of two only children are themselves often permitted to have more than one child; as well, farmers in rural areas whose first child is female are often granted an exemption. However, the rumor is that government is considering changing the rule wholesale by implementing a two-child rule across much of the country starting in 2015.
Would allowing the population to have two children per family solve the societal issues? Will it curb the bias against female babies? Or will it simply be saddling a new generation with the problems of the old, as the one-child generation ages and becomes a burden to their own children? Only time will tell.
Photo credit: Tsc_Traveler on Flickr