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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is china’s One Child Policy (OCP) going to bow under social problems?

China’s One Child Policy (OCP) might have been influenced by Confucius and other Chinese writers who believed that “excessive growth may reduce output per worker, repress levels of living for the masses and engender strife.” The OCP requires every family to have only one child, and failing this, punishment with fines and sometimes, illegal forced abortions and forced sterilizations. The OCP was introduced in 1979 as a tool of population control, to check rapid population growth rates. Recently, there have been suggestions that the OCP might be outliving its intentions. Population growth has stagnated and an official report states that there is a dearth of 15-59 year olds in China. As of 2011, the number of births prevented by the OCP was cited at 400 million.

Many children under the OCP do not understand what siblings mean or trustworthiness. Flickr.com/blondie478
On the economic front, it is touted as being responsible for the high savings rate of the Chinese. What the economy really needs is a move towards consumption so as to keep its growth going. Increasing consumption patterns would also make her enviable for foreign investment. Not only that, the children born under OCP do not understand what a sibling means. If this is foreboding, only time will tell.

Children under OCP lack characteristic for entrepreneurial prowess.

Social scientists from Australia who studied Chinese citizens born under its One Child Policy (OCP) and just before have released a report that OCP has not only dramatically re-shaped the population, but it has produced individuals lacking characteristics important for economic and social attainment[sic]. Children born under OCP were found to be significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, and less conscientious individuals.

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According to one of the scientists, Professor Cameron: “Our data show that people born under the One Child Policy were less likely to be in more risky occupations like self-employment. Thus there may be implications for China in terms of a decline in entrepreneurial ability.”

If the OCP foretells social problems for China, many writers have also cited it as an impediment to China’s growth. Within some years, China might have to rely on other Asian countries for young people who will maintain its huge industrial resources, otherwise it might either have to relax its population control laws or abolish them. By about 2025, the Chinese population will be one of senior citizens. Children will have to save more to care for their elderly parents. According to an online Yahoo news report, if young men cannot find marriageable partners, if the gender ratio continues to be skewed in favor of sons and societal expectations makes it more so, social instability might be in the offing.

China’s foreign investments are increasing, especially in Africa, and one wonders what will happen if other countries finally catch up with her export surplus model?

There are signs that China might intend relaxing its strict OCP policy. Renmin University’s Gu and the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy published a study in 2008 on two-child policy programs in four regions. Conclusion: while freedom to decide on a second child would reduce the gender disparity in China, the high cost of having children is a scary prospect for the average Chinese. The next year, the National Population and Family Planning Commission decided, as a first step, to expand pilot programs to relax the policy in four to five other regions, although the proposal was dropped for lack of a leadership consensus. These are signs that a reform of the policy might be imminent.

Is China interested in leadership lessons from the West?

The question is: Is China interested in taking leadership lessons from Western countries, even renowned Western academics? There is no conclusive official data that China is going through economic strains, or that its citizens are ready to relinquish control of its massive export oriented industries to other countries. By the way, Chinese citizens who are more likely to face high fines or punishment due to the OCP cannot influence public opinion or policy.

Where reports suggest that the Government is ready to relax OCP, for how long will this last? Will those provinces return to old ways? According to Yahoo news online, in Jiuquan, though the one-child policy is relaxed, women are still subject to strict family planning rules. They are fitted with intra-uterine devices after their first child, sterilized after their second and whoever defies the two-child quota pays a 30,000 yuan fine.


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