carry before one

One-child policy

The one-child policy is the population control policy (or planned birth policy) of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The Chinese government introduced the policy in 1979 to alleviate the social and environmental problems of China. The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the issues it raises; because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented; and because of concerns about negative economic and social consequences. Nonetheless, a recent (2008) survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center showed that over 75% of the Chinese population supports the policy.

The policy is enforced at the provincial level through fines that are imposed based on the income of the family and other factors. However, there are still many citizens that continue to have more than one child, despite this policy. In February 2008 Chinese Government official Wu Jianmin said that the one-child policy would be reconsidered during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March 2008, but at that time a representative of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the policy would remain in place for at least another decade.


The one-child policy promotes couples having only one child in rural and urban areas. However, parents with multiple births are given the same benefits as parents of one child. The limit has been strongly enforced in urban areas, but the actual implementation varies from location to location. In most rural areas, families are allowed to have two children if the first child is female or disabled. Second children are subject to birth spacing (usually 3 or 4 years). Additional children will result in large fines: families violating the policy are required to pay monetary penalties and might be denied bonuses at their workplace. Children born in overseas countries are not counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from abroad can have a second child.

The social fostering or maintenance fee sometimes called in the West a family planning fine, is collected as a multiple of either the annual disposable income of city dwellers or the annual cash income of peasants as determined each year by the local statistics office. The fine for a child born above the birth quota that year is thus a multiple of, depending upon the locality, either urban resident disposable income or peasant cash income estimated that year by the local statistics. So a fine for a child born ten years ago is based on the income estimate for the year of the child's birth and not of the current year. They also have to pay for both the children to go to school and all the family's health care. Some children who are in one-child families pay less than the children in other families. The one child policy was designed from the outset to be a one generation policy.

The one-child policy is now enforced at the provincial level, and enforcement varies; some provinces have relaxed the restrictions. Some provinces and cities such as Beijing permit two "only child" parents to have two children. Henan province, with a population of about 100 million, does not allow this exception. Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a limited exception to the regulations was announced in Sichuan province for parents who had lost children in the earthquake. Similar exceptions have previously been made for parents of severely disabled or deceased children..

Moreover, in accordance with PRC's affirmative action policies towards ethnic minorities, all non-Han ethnic groups are subjected to different rules and are usually allowed to have two children in urban areas, and three or four in rural areas; in addition, some couples simply pay a fine, or "social maintenance fee" to have more children. Thus the overall fertility rate of mainland China is, in fact, closer to two children per family than to one child per family (1.8). The steepest drop in fertility occurred in the 1970s before one child per family was implemented in 1979. This is due to the fact that population policies and campaigns have been ongoing in China since the 1950s. During the 1970s, a campaign of 'One is good, two is okay and three is too many' was heavily promoted.

In April 2007 a study by the University of California, Irvine, which claimed to be the first systematic study of the policy, found that it had proved "remarkably effective". Other reports have shown population aging and negative population growth in some areas.

Population growth and fertility rate reduction

Since the introduction of the one-child policy, the fertility rate in China has fallen from over two births per woman (already a sharp reduction from about five births per woman in the early 1970s) to approximately 1.7 births today. (The colloquial term "births per woman" is usually formalized as the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), a technical term in demographic analysis meaning the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates through her lifetime.)

In total, China estimates that it has three to four hundred million fewer people today, with the one-child policy, than it would have had otherwise. Chinese authorities thus consider the policy as a great success in helping to implement China's current economic growth. The reduction in the fertility rate and thus population growth has reduced the severity of problems that come with overpopulation, like epidemics, slums, overwhelmed social services (such as health, education, law enforcement), and strain on the ecosystem from abuse of fertile land and production of high volumes of waste. However, even with the one-child policy in place, "China still has one million more births than deaths every five weeks." In addition, there are still six hundred million people in China living on less than two dollars a day.

Scholarly and official estimates of current overall Chinese fertility (the average number of children a woman has over a lifetime) vary over a wide range, from about 1.3 to 2.0:

  • Some scholars believe the rate to be 1.3 births per woman, based on the national Census.
  • The official number is 1.6 (adjusted figure from the national Census).
  • The World Bank's estimate is 1.9.
  • Liang Zhongtang of the Shanxi Province Economic Research Center has estimated the rate to be 2.0.

A 1999 article in Population Research, China's flagship demographic journal, stated that China's total fertility rate is probably somewhere between 1.8 and 2.0. Some also believe that the estimate of reduced population size is exaggerated and suggest the real impact is closer to 50-60 million.

Studies by Chinese demographers, funded in part by the UN Fund for Population Activities, showed that combining poverty alleviation and health care with relaxed targets for family planning was more effective at reducing fertility than vigorous enforcement of very ambitious fertility reduction targets. In 1988, Zeng Yi and professor T. Paul Schultz of Yale University discussed the effect of the transformation to the market on Chinese fertility, arguing that the introduction of the contract responsibility system in agriculture during the early 1980s weakened family planning controls during that period. However, by the late 1980s, economic costs and incentives created by the contract system were already reducing the number of children farmers wanted. Zeng contended that the "big cooking pot" system of the Peoples' Communes had insulated people from the costs of having many children.

Non-population related benefits

Impact on health care and childbearing attitudes

It is reported that the focus of China on population control helps provide a better health service for women and a reduction in the risks of death and injury associated with pregnancy. At family planning offices, women receive free contraception and pre-natal classes. Help is provided for pregnant women to closely monitor their health. In various places in China, the government rolled out a ‘Care for Girls’ program, which aims at eliminating cultural discrimination against girls in rural and underdeveloped areas through subsidies and education.

Attitudes to child-bearing are also reported to have been affected by the one child policy. Some people have accepted the policy and consider that one child is enough. It is also reported that some Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Wuhan, have seen negative population growth, although some argue this may be statistical error.

Increased savings rate

The individual savings rate has increased since the introduction of the One Child Policy. This has been partially attributed to the policy in two respects. First, the average Chinese household expends fewer resources, both in terms of time and money, on children, which gives many Chinese more money with which to invest. Second, since young Chinese can no longer rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an impetus to save money for the future.

Economic growth

The original intent of the one-child policy was economic, to reduce the demand of natural resources, maintaining a steady labor rate, reducing unemployment caused from surplus labour, and reducing the rate of exploitation. The CPC's justification for this policy was based on their support of the Mao Zedong's and the Marxist theory of population growth, an idea which Marx took from Thomas Malthus.

Increased involvement of women in the labor force

Women have traditionally been the primary caregivers for children; however, with fewer children, they have more time to invest in their careers, increasing both their personal earnings and the national GDP. However, critics of the policy have asserted that such a gain may eventually be cancelled out by the increased burden of caring for two elderly parents singlehandedly.

Decreased environmental Impact

There are many measures of environmental impact; one commonly used is the ecological footprint of each person in various countries. Generally as a country's economy grows so does their ecological footprint. China's one child policy has the indirect consequence of reducing China's total ecological footprint and thus reducing strain on ecological resources.


The one-child policy has been criticized by human rights advocacy groups and Western religious groups, including some evangelical Christians, as well as by pro-life advocates. Within China, criticism tends to be focused on potential social problems caused by the policy, such as the "4-2-1" or "little emperor" problem. Other side effects sometimes attributed to the one-child policy include the use of sex-selective abortion, as reflected in highly skewed male-female ratios at birth.

A second type of criticism has come from those who acknowledge the challenges stemming from China's high population growth but believe that less intrusive options could have achieved the same results over an extended period of time. Susan Greenhalgh's (2003) recent review of the policy-making process behind the adoption of the OCPF shows that some of these alternatives were known but not fully considered.

A third criticism suggests that the reduction in the total fertility rate has been too dramatic. As Hasketh, Lu, and Xing observe: "[T]he policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate. The most dramatic decrease in the rate actually occurred before the policy was imposed. Between 1970 and 1979, the largely voluntary "late, long, few" policy, which called for later childbearing, greater spacing between children, and fewer children, had already resulted in a halving of the total fertility rate, from 5.9 to 2.9. After the one-child policy was introduced, there was a more gradual fall in the rate until 1995, and it has more or less stabilized at approximately 1.7 since then. These researchers note further that China could have expected a continued reduction in its fertility rate just from continued economic development, had it kept to the previous policy. For comparison, both India and China had total fertility rates (TFR) of about six children per woman in 1950. India's TFR dropped much more slowly than China's before 1990, to about 4.0, and is now 2.8.

Human rights

The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice over violating basic human rights. Reported abuses in its enforcement include bribery, coercion, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and possibly infanticide, with most reports coming from rural areas. A 2001 report exposed in Guangdong a quota of 20,000 abortions and sterilisations was set for Huaiji County in the same year due to reported disregard of the one-child policy. The effort included using portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion candidates in remote villages. Earlier reports also show that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution. There have also been reports where women, in their 9th month of pregnancy or who were already in labour, had their fetus killed whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth. Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute announced that the One child policy is "an ongoing genocide." He argued that free market capitalism will solve the overpopulation and overconsumption problems of developing nations.

In 2002, China outlawed the use of physical force to make a woman submit to an abortion or sterilization, but it is not entirely enforced. In the execution of the policy, many local governments still demand abortions if the pregnancy violates local regulations.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) funding for this policy is heavily criticized in the United States. The United States Congress pulled out of the UNFPA during the Reagan years, and U.S. President George W. Bush referred to human rights abuses as his reason for stopping the US$40 million payment to the UNFPA in early 2002. In early 2003 the U.S. State Department issued a press release stating that they would not continue to support the UNFPA in its present form because they believed that, at the very least, coercive birth limitation practices were not being properly addressed. The U.S. government has stated that the right to "found a family" is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This, coupled with the International Conference on Population and Development's view that it is the right of the individual, not the state, to determine the number of children, represents a clear conflict between China's policy and U.S. accepted and adopted human rights conventions.

Besides the extreme methods such as forced abortion adopted in the execution of one child policy, some critics also point to the possible economic and emotional costs the policy may bring to the people. A U.S. official named Dewey testified that parents who bear a second child are required to pay a "social compensation fee", which ranges from half of the local average annual income to ten times that.

The "Four-Two-One" problem

As the one-child policy begins to near its next generation, one adult child is left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. This leaves the older generation with more of a dependency on retirement funds or charity in order to have support. If personal savings, pensions, or state welfare should fail, then the most senior citizens would be left entirely dependent upon their very small family or neighbors for support. If a child cannot care for their parents and grandparents, or if that child cannot survive, the oldest generation could find itself destitute. To combat this problem, some provinces allow families where each parent was an "only child" to have two children. In 2007, except Henan province, all other provinces in PRC adopted this new adaption.

Some parents may over-indulge their only-child. The media referred to the indulged children in one-child families as "little emperors". Since the 1990s, some people worry this will result in a higher tendency toward poor social communication and cooperation skills among the new generation, as they have no siblings at home. However, no social studies have investigated the ratio of these over-indulged children and to what extent they are indulged. With the first generation of one-child policy children (those born in the 1980s) reaching adulthood, such worries are reduced.

However, some 30 delegates called on the government in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March 2007 to abolish the one-child rule because they believe "it creates social problems and personality disorders in young people." and "It is not healthy for children to play only with their parents and be spoiled by them: it is not right to limit the number to two, either." The proposal was prepared by Ye Tingfang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who suggested that the government at least restore the previous rule that allowed couples to have up to two children. According to this scholar, "the one-child limit is too extreme. It violates nature’s law and, in the long run, will lead to mother nature’s revenge.

Genetic Testing policies

The one-child policy includes eugenic regulations. Both partners have to be rigorously tested before they marry. If one spouse has an "unsatisfactory" physical or mental condition, ranging from dyslexia to schizophrenia, they are banned from marrying. The Chinese government claimed that these are aims to "improve the quality of the Chinese population." In the mid-1990s the Chinese government somewhat backed away on this policy.

However, some defenders of the policies have argued that labeling such genetic testing policies as Nazi-style eugenics is inaccurate and based on biased translations of the Chinese policy of healthy birth policy "yousheng." According to a UNESCO debate, Chinese genetic testing is conducted with the consent of the individual and is not based on racist or sinocentric attitudes.

Discrimination against Han Chinese

More than 90% of the population of China are Han Chinese. Most ethnic minorities have different quotas from Han, with the quotas depending on whether they are living in urban, rural, or remote regions. The 55 official minority groups are limited to two or sometimes three children. Foreigners are exempt from this policy. As a partial consequence, ethnic minorities have seen their proportion of the Chinese population grow from 6.1% in 1953, to 8.04% in 1990, and 9.44% in 2005. While ethnic minorities represent less than 10% of the total population, they comprised 35% of the net increase in China's overall population between the censuses of 1982 and 1990, and 42% of the net increase in China's population between 1990 and 2000. According to a recent survey, ethnic minorities are currently growing about seven times faster than Han Chinese. However, this relative increase is not only due to differential birthrates but also to a process of ethnic revival or growing self-consciousness or reidentification of minority nationalities, which has been occurring over the past few decades.

Miscellaneous arguments against the policy

According to some Uyghur activists, the one-child policy allegedly has had a program that coercively sterilizes Uyghur women since 1984. According to Uyghur activist Yemlibike Fatkulin, these include mass abortions of Uyghur children and forced termination of marriages between Uyghur people. Uyghur children who are born unauthorized are denied food and shelter by the government.

According to the website, another aspect of the policy is its alleged "forced intermarriage" policy. The government has sent Chinese girls to marry Uyghur men since 1990. These Uyghur men were forcibly separated from their Uyghur wives and were forced to marry Chinese girls. Heavy fines exist if an Uyghur man attempts divorce from his Chinese wife.

Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute argued that statism caused economic, environmental and food shortage. He suggested free market capitalism is the solution for overpopulation problems. He cited that "Reagan had it right when he declared 15 years ago that economic growth is 'the best contraceptive.' The UNFPA is at best irrelevant to economic development and probably a deterrent. To help women and children in the developing world, the United States should be exporting capitalism, not condoms."

Stephen Mosher of the "pro-life" Population Research Institute has argued that "Demographers have no conception of overpopulation ... The world today could feed about 12 to 14 billion people. He further claimed that China used propaganda and brainwashing to encourage its citizens to agree to abort their child. Referring to Mao Zedong's failure of the Great Leap Forward, he argued that it is government mismanagement and government intervention that led to famine and shortage of food. Mosher further declared that one child policy hinders China's economic development.

Discrimination against city communities

City dwellers usually have only one child per couple, whereas peasants almost all have 2 or more babies. The great difference of fertility rate 1:2 between city dwellers and peasants is just one of the social impacts of One-child policy. Urban dwellers are also economically better off — with incomes averaging three times greater than rural dwellers — urban children are raised in more favorable economic conditions than rural children. Some have also argued that because of this the only-children in urban families end up being spoiled, while the rural children often lack the necessary resources to be well fed and educated. It sometimes leads to the enlarging gap between the rich and poor. This is because the wealthy have only one baby with thrice the revenue of the poor, who may have two or more babies with 1/3 of the revenue of the rich.

This outcome was not something that the Chinese government wanted. Further, the policy was resisted especially in rural communities. In the face of such resistance, the policy would have required more drastic measures than the Chinese government was willing to be seen using. This led to criticism of China from population advocates such as Garrett Hardin who argued China needs to more strictly enforce the one-child policy.

Government corruption

Between 2000 to 2005 as many as 1,968 officials in central China's Hunan province have been found breaching the policy according to the provincial family planning commission. Also exposed by the commission are 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and 6 senior intellectuals. Penalties are not enforced for violating the policy, as the spokesman proclaimed "Three officials -- vice head of Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Xiangxi with the surname as Peng, vice mayor of Loudi surnamed as Zhao, and vice mayor of Chenzhou with the surname of Lei, who were all found to have kept extramarital mistresses, -- were all convicted for charges such as embezzlement and taking bribes, but they were not punished for having more than one child."

Side effects on female population

China, like many other Asian countries, has a long tradition of son preference. Many argue that the one-child policy induces many families to use selective abortion, abandon female infants, and even kill female infants under the influence of the son preference. Some families even kill or starve the female infant and then try again for a male child.

The commonly accepted explanation for son preference is that sons in rural families may be thought to be more helpful in farm work. Both rural and urban populations have economic and traditional incentives, including widespread remnants of Confucianism, to prefer sons over daughters. Sons are preferred as they provide the primary financial support for the parents in their retirement, and a son's parents typically are better cared for than his wife's. In addition, Chinese traditionally view that daughters, on their marriage, become primarily part of the groom's family.

Gender-based birthrate disparity

The sex ratio at birth (between male and female births) in mainland China reached 117:100 in the year 2000, substantially higher than the natural baseline, which ranges between 103:100 and 107:100. It had risen from 108:100 in 1981 -- at the boundary of the natural baseline -- to 111:100 in 1990. According to a report by the State Population and Family Planning Commission, there will be 30 million more men than women in 2020, potentially leading to social instability. The correlation between the increase of sex ratio disparity on birth and the deployment of one child policy would appear to have been caused by the one-child policy.

However, other Asian regions also have higher than average ratios, including Taiwan (110:100) and South Korea (108:100), which do not have a family planning policy, though still lower than that of China. Many studies have explored the reason for the gender-based birthrate disparity in China as well as other countries. A study in 1990 attributed the high preponderance of reported male births in mainland China to four main causes: diseases which affect females more severely than males; the result of widespread under-reporting of female births; the illegal practice of sex-selective abortion made possible by the widespread availability of ultrasound; and finally, acts of child abandonment and infanticide. It can be argued that the preference of boys over girls has been amplified by the implementation of the policy; however, given the multiple factors that may produce such sex ratios, it is inappropriate to attribute the ratios directly to the policy.

In a recent paper, Emily Oster (2005) proposed a biological explanation for the gender imbalance in Asian countries, including China. Using data on viral prevalence by country as well as estimates of the effect of hepatitis on sex ratio, Oster claimed that Hepatitis B could account for up to 75% of the gender disparity in China.

However, Monica Das Gupta (2005) has shown that "whether or not females 'go missing' is determined by the existing sex composition of the family into which they are conceived. Girls with no older sisters have similar chances of survival as boys. However, girls conceived in families that already have a daughter experience steeply higher probabilities of being aborted or of dying in early childhood. Gupta claims that cultural factors provide the overwhelming explanation for the "missing" females.

The disparity in the sex ratio at birth increases dramatically after the first birth, for which the ratios remained steadily within the natural baseline over the 20 year interval between 1980 and 1999. Thus, a large majority of couples appear to accept the outcome of the first pregnancy, whether it is a boy or a girl. However, if the first child is a girl, and they are able to have a second child, then a couple may take extraordinary steps to assure that the second child is a boy. If a couple already has two or more boys, however, the sex ratio of higher parity births swings decidedly in a feminine direction.

This demographic evidence indicates that while families highly value having male offspring, a secondary norm of having a girl or having some balance in the sexes of children often comes into play. For example, Zeng Yi et al. (1993) reported a study based on the 1990 census in which they found sex ratios of just 65 or 70 boys per 100 girls for high parity births in families that already had two or more boys. A study by Barbara Anderson and Brian Silver (1995) found a similar pattern among both Han and non-Han nationalities in Xinjiang Province: a strong preference for girls in high parity births in families that had already borne two or more boys.

However, high sex ratios (boy to girl) in the current population of China do not occur only in rural areas. Hasketh et al. (2005) show that the ratio is nearly identical in rural and urban areas.

Chinese demographers examine gender ratio problem in January 2006 review article

A review article "China’s Sex Ratio at Birth: From Doubts About its Existence to Looking for a Solution by the Editorial Board of China's lead demography journal, Population Research (Simplified Chinese: 人口研究;Hanyu Pinyin: Rénkǒu Yánjiū) in its January 2006 issue argued that only an approach that makes the rights of women central can succeed in bringing down China's high gender ratio at birth and improve the survival rate of female infants and girls. The author of the section of the article from which the quotes below are drawn, "Research on the Sex Ratio at Birth Should Take a Gender Discrimination Approach" is Ci Qinying, Professor in the Demography Institute at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

  • "If we do pay more attention to the problem of the rising sex ratio, still the focus is on the rights of males such as the right to marry, and ignores women’s rights such as the right to survive, the right to reproduce, the right to health, etc. This approach inflicts even more harm on women. If this approach is taken, women will never be able to escape their subsidiary position and their role of satisfying the desires of others. Robbing females of their right to exist [shengmingquan 生命权] is for the sake of giving birth to males – that is putting the right to survive of males first. Moreover, protecting women’s right to exist is merely for the purpose of provide a wife to sons. A measure to ensure that a counterpart is available to ensure that male can exercise his right to marry. In both case, the male is primary and the female is subsidiary."
  • "Therefore, how a researcher approaches the question of the sex ratio at birth – from what point for view, considering whose rights – is critical. This depends upon the values of the researcher, the humanistic orientation of the researcher and the consciousness the researcher has about gender and gender discrimination. Protecting the right to exist, the right to reproduce, and the right to health of girls should be at the very core of policy and action measures to control sex ratio at birth. That is because females are the biggest victims of the rising sex ratio. The rising sex ratio is in fact robbing females of their right to exist and completely discriminates against females."

The review article argues that a human rights perspective is important.

  • "Social controls on methods of selective reproduction are needed not only because of the higher birth ratio that results but also because selective reproduction harms the body and soul of the mother and robs unborn infants (regardless of being boy or girl) of their right to live. Selective reproduction itself should be more closely regulated and brought under control."
  • "Even aside from the question of the rising sex ratio at birth, we should also intervene against and oppose elective abortion. Elective abortion robs unborn female infants of their right to live and their right to exist, accentuates the social custom of favoring males over females. Not only does it harm women’s bodies it also reduces women to the role of a mere tool for reproduction. Women bodies and spirits are suffering grievous wounds. Therefore no matter what the results of an elective abortion might be, we should intervene against and oppose elective abortion. The rise of the sex ratio at birth is only one among several reasons for intervening on selective reproduction."

While these views are not mainstream or government policy in China, that they could appear in the lead demography journal is intriguing.

The authors of another review article "Girl Survival in China: History, Present Situation and Prospects" presented at a 2005 conference supported by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) concluded that "The Chinese government has already set the goal of achieving a normal gender ratio at birth by 2010, and to achieve preliminary results in establishing a new cultural outlook on marriage and having children. The government is working to change the system, way of thinking and other obstacles to attacking the root of the problem. Only if equality of males and females is strongly promoted ... will the harmonious and sustainable development of society be possible.

Abandoned or orphaned children and adoption

The social pressure exerted by the one-child policy has affected the rate at which parents abandon undesirable children, and many live in state-sponsored orphanages, from which thousands are adopted internationally and by Chinese parents each year. In the 1980s and early 1990s, poor care and high mortality rates in some state institutions generated intense international pressure for reform. In the years that followed, adoption rates climbed dramatically, increasing to the U.S. alone from about 200 in 1992 to more than 7,900 in 2005. In recent years, the number of adoptions has since dropped. According to Sten Johansson and Ola Nygren (1991) adoptions accounted for half of the so-called "missing girls" in the 1980s in the PRC. Through the 1980s, as the one-child policy came into force, parents who desired a son but bore a daughter in some cases failed to report or delayed the reporting of the birth of the girl to the authorities. But rather than neglecting or abandoning unwanted girls, the parents may have offered them up for formal or informal adoption. A majority of children who went through formal adoption in China in the later 1980s were girls, and the proportion who were girls increased over time (Johansson and Nygren 1991).

The practice of adopting out unwanted girls is consistent with both the son preference of many Chinese couples and the findings of Zeng Yi et al. (1993) and Anderson and Silver (1995) that under some circumstances families have a preference for girls, in particular when they have already satisfied their goals for sons. Recent research by Weiguo Zhang (2006) on child adoption in rural China also reveals increasing receptivity to adopting girls, including by infertile and childless couples.


It is unknown how common infanticide is in China, though government officials state that it is "rare". There are accounts of parents killing their female infants in remote and rural areas due to many reasons. These include families not being able to support all their children, parents not wanting to be looked down on or laughed at (women who do not give birth to a boy may be considered "bad" at birthing), and the wife wanting to prevent their husbands from marrying other women, including concubines. Anthropologist G. William Skinner at the University of California-Davis and Chinese researcher Yuan Jianhua have claimed that infanticide was fairly common in China before the 1990s and the widespread availability of ultrasounds to determine the sex of babies. Aside from avoidance of the penalties and restrictions of the state birth control policy, the root causes of infanticide, especially for baby girls whose health care and nutrition may not get the same attention as baby boys, may be poverty in rural China along with the traditional preference for boys for economic reasons.

Gender-selected abortion, abandonment, and infanticide are illegal in China. Despite the Chinese legal position, the US State Department, the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and the human rights organization Amnesty International have all declared that China's family planning programs contribute to incidences of infanticide.

The desire for children, fertility medicines, and family planning

Along with the political and economic constraints on having children in China, many people face medical problems as they seek to have children. Advertisements for fertility clinics appear frequently in the PRC media. Some pray for a child while others turn to fertility clinics. China Daily recently reported that wealthy couples are increasingly turning to fertility medicines to have multiple births, due to the lack of penalties against couples who have more than one child in their first birth. The report quoted a doctor from a main pediatric hospital as saying that dozens more multiple births were recorded in 2005.

Children born outside of China

In the Summer of 2006, new documents came to light indicating that Chinese nationals with children born abroad will be treated the same as Chinese nationals with Chinese-born children. This evidence has led the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to remand a litany of cases involving Chinese nationals seeking political asylum back to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

In August 2007, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that the new documents, even assuming that they are genuine, reflect only "general birth planning policies [...] that do not specifically show any likelihood that [...] Chinese nationals will be persecuted as a result of the birth of a second child in the United States."

See also



  • Better 10 Graves Than One Extra Birth, (ISBN 1-931550-92-1, Laogai Research Foundation)

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