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One-Family, One-Child Research Papers

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The One-Family, One-Child policy in China launched in 1979 has turned reproduction into an area of direct state intervention.  The new regime under Deng made the neo-Malthusian observation that the economic gains from reform were barely sufficient to accommodate a population of one billion, given the natural population growth rate of 1.26 percent, much less provide a base for advanced industrial development. The One-Family, One-Child campaigns have therefore targeted women to limit their childbearing as a “patriotic duty”.

One-Family, One-Child

The family planning policy is implemented by local units of the W.F., barefoot doctors and health workers who are mainly women. Each family is visited individually by members of the local family planning committee. After the first child, women are awarded a one-child certificate that entitles them to a number of privileges. Standard regulations concerning the type of birth control method employed require IUDs after one child, sterilization after the second one and abortion for unapproved pregnancies.

The policy rests on a coercive system of sanctions and rewards. Economic sanctions include: payment of an “excess child levy” as compensation to the state for the cost of another child to the country; reduction in the family’s grain ration (or higher prices) for producing a “surplus” child; limitations on additional land for private plots and the right to collective grain in times of flood and drought; and ineligibility for promotion for four years, demotion, or reduction in wages. Moreover, the offending couple has to bear all expenses for medical care and education of excess children, and “extra” children have the lowest priority in admission to kindergarten, school and medical institutions.

In contrast, one-child families are entitled to many privileges including:

  • Monthly or annual cash subsidies for health or welfare until the child reaches fourteen years of age
  • Additional private plots from the commune
  • Single children are entitled to free education, health services, and priority in admission to nurseries, schools and hospitals
  • Parents receive an additional subsidy to their old age pension

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