Arch Dis Child 88:463-464 doi:10.1136/adc.88.6.463
  • Leading article

The One Child Family Policy

  1. W X Zhu
  1. Health Unlimited, East Asia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr W X Zhu, Apt 2-401 Yashi Yuan, 39 NanZhong Guo Xin Chen, 149 Wen Hua Road, Hangzhou, Zh 210012, China;

    The government hopes that there will be a shift towards the “small family culture”

    What is known as the One Child Policy was introduced in 1979 as a set of rules and regulations governing the approved size of Chinese families. This was not the first attempt by China to curb the growth of its population. The so called “late, long, few” policy was introduced in the early 1970, because the population had risen dramatically during the 1950s and 60s, from 540 million in 1950 to 850 million in 1970. The “late, long, few” policy was a conventional family planning programme, consisting of the encouragement of later child bearing, longer spacing, and fewer children. This policy led to a fall in the total fertility rate (TFR) from 5.9 in 1970 to 2.7 in 1979.1 But this fall was not enough for Deng Xiao Ping who at this time was setting out his economic reform programme. Projections showed that the population would continue to rise sharply, because around two thirds of the population were under 30, and because the baby boomers of the 1950s and 60s were entering their reproductive years. Deng saw population containment as essential to the success of his economic reform programme.2 So the One Child Policy was introduced. Twenty three years later the TFR is estimated to be 1.8, and it has remained unchanged for the past five years.3

    There is much confusion about the policy, mainly because in this vast country the way in which the policy is actually implemented varies considerably from place to place.4 For example, families of four and more are still tolerated (though not officially allowed) in some remote rural areas, while a strict one child per family policy is imposed in the cities. There is a central policy …

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