Wednesday, April 9, 2008

China's One Child Policy

One of the social work students, Julie Adams, has very kindly offered to allow me to publish one of her reaction papers here. This is a paper she wrote to express her reactions to what she had learned about the one child policy in China intended as a measure to increase social welfare by slowing the rate of population growth.


The policy in which I am going to address is not an issue in the United States of American but instead China. I have come across the One-Child policy. I have heard of this situation before and I had never thought too much about it and I certainly did not know this policy is current.
This is a very interesting policy. When I first found it and decided to convey my feelings for this topic, I thought they would all be negative. After reading more information regarding the policy I am uncertain where I stand on the issue as there are many positive and negative aspects of the one-child policy.
The point of the policy is to keep the population under control and make the economy stronger. The government of China thinks that they cannot sustain a population of two billion and still provide the standard of living that they desire. This one-child policy promotes that couples only have one child or they will be fined fairly severely. It was my understanding that this was the way Chinese lived long ago. It was very much to my surprise to learn this policy only passed in 1979. It was supposed to be a one generation policy in order to cut the growing population, however, just this year it was said they would keep the policy in effect for at least another decade.
In some areas the families are fined for multiple births but in some areas the policy is not too heavily pushed. In most rural areas a couple can actually have two children if the first one is a female or disabled but there must be at least three to four years in between the births. At one time, children who were born outside of the country did not count toward the family size if they did not obtain Chinese citizenship. Recently, this clause in the policy has been overruled and all children born into the family count and will be considered in the areas where the policy is strictly enforced.
The Chinese government estimates that since this policy has been in effect they currently have 300-400 million fewer people than they would have without the policy. Therefore the government thinks that this one-child policy is a great success. They have reported that the severity of problems stemming from overcrowding have been reduced tremendously. They show lower rates in epidemics, slums, and overwhelmed social services such as health care, education, and law enforcement.
I can see where the government is concerned that this policy would be very effective. It sounds like a great idea as far as attempting to control the population to prevent crisis in overcrowding. I just cannot imagine where they think they have to right to make such a serious decision for the people or they will be punished. I do not feel that the government should have the right to determine how many children a couple should have. It is a natural human right to reproduce.

Ideally it would be great to be able to tell certain Americans that they cannot have any children or at least not more than one. The people that don’t take care of their children, the ones who abuse their children, the ones who would rather get drunk or high than be concerned for their child’s well being, it would be great for the American society to ban them from having children but it is never going to happen.
Some of the positive aspects that the government is looking at is really what I think is horrible. They are looking at the money the country is making instead of the fact that they are dictating their people’s lives. This is shown in the economic perspective of the benefits the Chinese government claims has come from this policy. They say that the savings increases because the people are spending less on their children and focusing more on their retirement because they will not have multiple children to care for them when they are elderly so they must be prepared to find other means of surviving old age. The women are also spending less time raising children so they are now able to work more which is obviously making China more revenue.
I think that is a very inhumane way of looking at this situation. Like I said before, the policy sounds good as far as controlling the population but I just don’t think that is very justifiable. I suppose if I understood how close they were coming to really being in a crisis concerning over population maybe I would be able to envision why this policy is absolutely necessary for their country. At this point though, I think it seems more like the government just wanting to control the lives of their people and I do not think that is fair.