The Reality of China’s One Child Policy

By Almudena Rincon (Senior)

Being the most populous country in the world, China has had to endure a law to reduce the population that changed families’ whole lives. The One Child Policy established in the Asian continent stated that a family could only have one child; this was an effort to lessen the population, and it succeeded. The policy prevented more than 400 billion births. But there were some serious drawbacks. China is a country with gender inequality issues and this law only added to them. There have been many more males born in the last decade due to an extended number of female abortions. This is due to the fact that women in Chinese society are seen as inferior and don’t have the same privileges as men. Moreover, many families don’t want a girl because they can’t depend on them at an old age. But the low number of women born is about to change. The One Child Policy is soon going to have different standards. If both parents are single children, the family can have two kids. This change in the law is giving hope and opportunity to families that previously did not have any.

While things in China are changing, another of the most powerful countries in the world is also

This poster advertises China's
This poster advertises China’s “One Child Policy” that the country implemented to keep their population under control. (Picture taken from coolgeography.co.uk)

undergoing a beneficial change towards gender equality. In the United States, gender inequality also exists, but it’s not as prominent as it is in China. For one, there’s no policy that prevents families from having as many kids as they want, therefore, families have male and female kids indifferently and most of them don’t care whether it’s daughters or sons. In China, parents are expected to buy homes for their sons but not daughters because once they marry, they are obligated to the husband’s family. In the United States, society has the similar expectations for women and men; both can buy houses, and neither one depends on the other. What is more, women’s power is increasing in the US, and the gender gap is slowly closing because of numerous campaigns led by powerful women. Unfortunately, there are facts that aren’t changing in neither of the countries. Women in both countries receive a lower wage than men do, but in China women are expected to be taken care of by their parents if they’re not married and don’t have enough money. China’s society’s view on gender is “survival depends on sons, daughters are only a burden.”

With the One Child Law changing, experts on Newsweek say the population will increase by 1 million. Hopefully that will help decrease the gender gap as well, by first reducing the ratio of men to women born. According to Wikipedia, currently there’s a ratio of 122 males born for every 100 females due to the abortions that have occurred. Being 87 in the world rank of gender gap, China now has a greater male population. Even so, there is an amount of the female population who are called “leftover women”. Leta Hong Fincher writes in her book Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China that the idea of “Leftover Women” was created my mass media in 2007. It’s a term that is used to define woman that are above 25 years of age and haven’t married a man; women feel pressured to marry early, so that society won’t belittle them for not having a man to depend on. Despite this degrading fact, there’s now a shortage of marriage-age women in China, which displays the how the gender ratio has affected the life of many, both male and female.

 If women aren’t married, they still oblige to their parents and their parents to them. This results in the issue of house owning. In Chinese society parents normally buy houses for their sons. In these past few years, the views have changed, but the statistics are still unbalanced according to Hong Fitcher; only 1 out of 15 single women own a home, opposed to 1 in 5 single men who own a home and just 13.2% of married women own a home while 51.7% of married men do. Furthermore, when a Chinese couple gets divorced, which is occurring more frequently nowadays, the property usually goes to the men. Even if the husband was abusing his wife, the law will give the shared belongings to the man. This one of the cases written in Hong Fitcher’s book, “Wu recently managed to gain a divorce from an abusive husband after five years of marriage, but only by giving up her home, her life saving, and most of her other belongings.”

Gender inequality is an important topic in China and it’s an issue that has to change. The change in the One Child Law will decrease the gender gap and will hopefully provide a different view on women’s role in society like it’s happening in the United States. Women are rising to power in their jobs and proving men that they are as capable of sustaining the economy, politics and their household. Fortunately, the wage gap in the United States is changing; China should follow its footsteps and not treat women as inferior. The two biggest world powers can cooperate so that, along with the One Child Law, the country can give its women more rights and change the outlook of families’ lives.


5 thoughts on “The Reality of China’s One Child Policy

  1. This article is very much interesting. I already had a sense of knowledge on this subject but never really knew the real reason behind it all. I am fascinated to have developed more understatement on this sensitive topic.

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  2. I noticed the title and couldn’t help but want to find out more about my own country’s ways. I knew about the policy, but I hadn’t known about the full consequences and seriousness of the unfairness that the policy brings to the people of China. I find it unfair how the males are seen to be more capable than the females and considered overly important enough to abort the female babies. I agree that the policy needs to change in order for progress to happen against inequality.

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  3. Very enjoyable article. I learned about, but I feel despite the changes in the one child policy, It;ll be truly a long time before there’s equality to the same degree as North America. Which as you said in the article above still has a lot issues to tinker out. China’s improving but it has a long way to go before they strive a balance that’s seen as expect able to the rest of the world.

    Like

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