Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016



As of January First, the People's Republic of China officially terminated their controversial "One Child Only" policy. This was great news for Zhou Meifen of Wenzhou. At 12:01 AM on New Year's Day, she gave birth to her second child. Had the baby been born two minutes earlier, she would have been forced to pay the $12,000 Birth Control Tax. But...since her child came in the 2016 calendar year, she instead became the first Chinese citizen in thirty-five years to legally have two kids!

Why did China change course? Simple demographics. Census figures have clearly demonstrated the old policy's failures. Last year..for the first time ever...China's labor force declined. For the world's second largest economy, this is a recipe for disaster. Another obvious problem is that folks in China are living longer. Who will take care of the old? Finally, the PRC had to face the biggest problem from the One-Child Policy: People were cheating. The birth ratio of boys to girls in China is 1.22 to 1.

When the ordinance first came into effect in 1980, Communist officials were unaware of the Sonogram. Invented in 1956 in Glasgow, its original use was to detect flaws in industrial ships. It wouldn't be used to view unborn fetuses for another twenty years. Hence, the idea that future Chinese citizens would be using an UltraSound machine to detect the sex of a fetus...then have it aborted if it turned out to be female...was unthinkable.  But that is exactly what happened. Today, China has the highest abortion rate in the world at 30%. (It's a whopping 62% in the 20 -29 age range).

The social impacts of the One-Child policy have been disastrous as well. It must be very confusing for a young woman in China's male-dominated society. If you conceive a male, then your world is wonderful, filled with blessings and praise. However, the other half who conceive girls are often subjected to a forced abortion. Many women have a second abortion if they fail again to produce a male heir. This has resulted in high depression rates for Chinese women, which sometimes culminates with death. China is the only nation on earth where more women commit suicide than men.

Most importantly, the Chinese government realized that lifting the One-Child ban would not instantly result in a horrific population boom. Projections show that 40% of families in rural China are planning on enlarging their families. However, in Shanghai, that figure drops to 25%. Cost of living expenses in urban areas have tripled since 2000, and most people simply cannot afford anything. Finally, don't expect any version of the Chinese Brady Bunch anytime soon: The Two-Child Only Policy is now in full effect!

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