China finally relaxing One Child Policy....sorta.

Swiffness! Members Posts: 10,128 ✭✭✭✭✭
got dayum @ this chart


Big news for Chinese families today as the ruling party announces a major reform to the infamous "one child" policy. Now an urban couple can have two kids as long as one of the two parents is an only child.

The one child policy has become a bit of an odd beast. It was first implemented at a time of widespread belief in overpopulation stories and the urgent need to encourage families all around the world to have fewer kids. In that context, the one child policy was unusually draconian and reflected China's authoritarian politics, but also reflected broader ideas with considerable support in the west about demographics and economics.

From today's vantage point, it just looks like an unmitigated disaster. It's a huge impairment of human freedom, but it's also left China with a rapidly aging population and a severe gender imbalance among its younger cohorts. We've also learned more broadly that birth rates fall pretty dramatically in basically all societies that feature birth control technology, women with some modicum of autonomy from their male partners, and access to global popular culture. Which is to say that even without population control measures, most developed countries have birth rates below replacement level and most developing countries are rapidly converging.

The same policy announcement also says that China will no longer try to "re-educate" people by sentencing them to slave labor camps. All in all, a good day. (LOL)

This is probably the thing that Americans most misunderstand about China: It may be run by a giant authoritarian bureaucracy, but the system can get really messy. The people at the top have a lot less control over mid-level officials than outsiders often assume. Local officials will sometimes go their own way. So the question for Beijing becomes, How do you steer all those local officials to do what you want? The one-child policy is a study in how that can go wrong.

Here's the contradiction in the one-child policy: Chinese officials want to keep down the birthrate, which is why they enacted the policy in 1979 and have kept it ever since. They hand out birthrate targets to provincial and local officials, telling them they'll be judged on how well they meet the goals. But they also want to forbid state officials to enforce the policy with forced abortions and sterilizations, which are rightly loathed as horrific human rights abuses.

These two policies force the hundreds of mid-level officials who run China into a dilemma: If they conclude that they can't keep down the birthrate without using forced abortions and sterilizations, which of their two orders do they disobey? Do they let the birthrate slip above target, or do they resort to officially prohibited forced abortions? Inevitably, some officials, particularly those who believe they need to hit their birthrate targets to win a promotion, will decide it's better to break the rules against forced abortions and sterilizations.

I can't get over that gender imbalance. What the ? . Its like they WANT to be the first ? superpower since Sparta.