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A history of the Chinese government's One-Child Policy

Part One

The One Child Policy was put in place by the People’s Republic of China from 1979 to 2015 and was a law to decrease the rapidly-growing population.

Chairman Mao Zedong, who ruled from 1943 to 1976, believed a larger population made the country stronger. Thus, the government encouraged families to raise large families. In the beginning of the 1970s, the Chinese government added restrictions to the number of children a family could have, due to their massive population boom and insufficient food production. In 1979, the government decided the restrictions were not doing enough to curb the growing population, therefore enacting the One-Child Policy.

In the 1990s, as part of the population control effort, women were forced to be sterilized after having a second child, and their children had to be spaced at least five years apart. Many women feared the procedure of sterilization, and some tried to bargain their way out of the requirement, promising to have only one child or to use other forms of birth control.

To enforce their law, the government imposed financial penalties. The parents of children born were heavily fined. Also called the Family Planning Fine, these fines were collected in the year the child was born, and families were required to pay, regardless of their financial circumstances. If families were unable to pay, the government would take other items in the household, such as televisions, tables, bikes and washing machines.

These fines most families couldn’t afford, which lead to thousands of children anonymously placed in orphanages.

As the years went on, the government loosened this policy, since the ratio of men to women and older to younger people grew imbalanced.

Noticing this, the government allows every family to have two children. However, the effects of the One-Child Policy will be evident for generations to come.


"Sterilization, Abortion, Fines: How China Brutally Enforced its 1-Child Policy."

"New Study Finds China's Population Control Policies Before the One-Child Policy Were Responsible for 200,000 'Missing Girls.'"


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