China s Birth Regulations Are Justified
What would you think if someone told you that you weren t allowed to exercise one of your basic human rights? How would you feel if someone told you that you weren t allowed to have another child? Many people would be outraged. China is a country with a severe over population problem. In order to combat the problem, the Chinese government has instituted family planning policies which regulate citizens permission to have multiple children. Before one jumps to the conclusion that family planning inhibits people s rights, it is necessary to fully understand the benefits it has had on China s overpopulation problem. Family planning is justified because it has effectively regulated over-rapid population growth, promoted positive changes in people s thoughts on marriage, birth and family, and has aided development of China s economy and living standards.
For those unfamiliar with the family planning regulations, the following is taken from a U.S. Department of State report, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: The State Family Planning Commission formulates and implements policies with assistance from the Family Planning Association, which has 83 million members in 1.02 million branches. Chinese demographers at an October conference predicted that the population would reach almost 1.56 billion in the year 2044 if the current fertility rate continued. Most estimated fertility at 2.1 births per woman indicating that the “one-child policy” is not applied to the majority of Chinese couples. Couples in urban areas are most affected, seldom receiving permission to have more than one child, although the Government maintains that urban couples who themselves were only children may now receive permission to have two children. Outside the cities, exceptions to the “one-child policy” are becoming the norm. The average number of children per family in rural areas, where 70 percent of the people live, is slightly over two. In rural areas, couples are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl, an exception that takes into account both the demands of farm labor and the traditional preference for boys. Some ethnic minorities, such as Muslim Uyghurs and Tibetans, are subject to less stringent population controls. Minorities in some rural areas are permitted to have as many as four children. In remote areas, such as rural Tibet, there are no effective limits at all. (U.S. State Dept, 1)
Family planning has, since its very beginning, regulated over-rapid population growth in China. The idea behind family planning is that couples should have only one child, thus reducing the birth rate that reached as high as 5.8 children per couple in the 1970 s. Since 1987, China has had various regulations regarding family planning, but they have all steered toward the policy that only one child be born per couple, with exceptions in rural areas.
A study done by the US Population Institute said that of the more than one thousand couples visited (during the study) who qualified to have more than one child, many decided not to do so. (Popline, 1) The leader of this organization, Warner Fornos, said that China has greatly changed its overall mind set regarding population since he first visited the country in the early 1980 s. These changes include a sharp decline in population growth, improved economic conditions, success in poverty eradication efforts, empowerment of women… and the list continues (Popline, 1).
In a report released by the Information Office of the State Council in China, it it written that …because China s current population and family planning program and policies have won understanding and support from the people, the fertility level of the population has steadily reduced and the trend of over-rapid population growth has been effectively checked along with the country s economic and social development [which has also been checked effectively]. (China State Council, 1). It becomes apparent in these two reports that family planning has effectively reduced the over-rapid population growth rate in Chinese communities.
Family planning has altered people s thoughts regrading marriage, birth and family in China. the overall idea in China used to be that giving birth to a boy would be more economically worthwhile than having a girl. More children meant greater happiness. These ideas have, since family planning came into place, been slowly discarded. In the past, people would keep having babies until they were blessed with a boy. This practice is discouraged through family planning. Family planning has promoted growth and change in the minds of Chinese couples regarding these issues. The report from the State Council of China said that in 1990 the average family size was 3.96 persons, down from 4.84 persons in 1971. The report claims that the major reason for this reduction in family size is the institution of family planning, resulting in fewer births. (China State Council, 1)
People in China are now moving toward the one child idea more and more. In Werner Fornos study, mentioned earlier, he quotes a villager in Liaoning Province who said, In our village, sixty-nine women are qualified to apply to have a second baby in accordance with the government policy, but only nine have expressed any interest. Fornos noted that young couples are now opting to marry later and have few children (Popline, 1). It is evident that family planning has effectively changed the mind set of the people regarding marriage and family.
Family planning has, last but not least, aided in development of China s economy and living standards. China s main goals in family planning, with respect to the economy, is to make the speed of population growth lower than the speed of gross national product growth, thus eventually raising the per-capita level. The following statistics, given in the report from the State Council of China, will illustrate this fact:
In the period between 1952 and 1978, the Gross Domestic product (GDP) increased 4.7 fold. However, the per-capita GDP increased only 2.8 fold. Between 1978 and 1994, China persisted in doing a good job with family planning. The GDP increased 4.2 fold and the per-capita GDP increased 3.4 fold. Compared with 1974, living standards in China have improved greatly. For most families, the basic needs of living, such as food, clothing, and shelter, were met. There has been great progress in China since family planning developed regarding the economic and living standards of the people.
In studying the evidence given in this paper, one can surely begin to agree that the birth regulations in China are providing a positive effect on the Chinese. Family planning regulations, which were set up in an attempt to control the over rapid growth in population in Chinese communities, have been effective in doing just that. Family planning practices are justified because they have effectively regulated over-rapid population growth, promoted positive changes in people s thoughts on marriage, birth and family, and have aided development of China s economy and living standards.