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Gender, Chinese Adoption & Reproductive Incentives

Women's History Month 2023

This month, we celebrate all the accomplishments of the women around us and continue advocating for gender equality in all aspects of life.


Slide text

Slide one:

Gender, Chinese Adoption & Reproductive Incentives. Women's History Month 2023.

Slide two: The one-child policy

In 1979, the Chinese government implemented a policy that only allowed couples to raise one child.

  • At the time, only boys could care for their parents in old age

  • This lead to a disproportionate number of girls left at orphanages and eventually placed for adoption

Slide three: Gender in China

The one-child policy was designed to curb the country's rapid population growth.

  • Today, China faces a large gender imbalance of boys to girls

  • Gender norms and expectations created this issue

  • Girls were expected to marry out of the family and not provide the same retirement security that a son would.

Slide four: Chinese adoptees

  • About 110,000 children have been adopted from China, with most going to the United States

  • The number of adopted girls greatly outnumbers that of adopted boys: 86% to 14%

  • Most girl Chinese adoptees were left as babies and adopted between the ages of 1-2.

Slide five:

Some gendered impacts of the one-child policy

Female babies were disproportionately subjected to abandonment and infanticide.

Women's reproductive rights were dictated for decades and many were forced to have sterilizations or abortions.

Large rise in female adoption to the United States.

Slide six: Current Chinese reproduction incentives & maternity status

  • China is creating economic and financial rewards for having children

  • Beijing is now offering incentives and rewards for married women having babies

  • Some think China may take motherhood into account when giving women promotions in the workplace

Slide seven: Sources

  • Constante, Agnes, "In Connecting Chinese Adoptees to Birth Families, Couple Makes Discovery About China's One-child Policy," NBC News, March 30, 2020.

  • Black, Kelly, "6 Statistics About China International Adoption," International Adoption, April 26, 2018.

  • Stevenson, Alexandra; Wang, Zixu. "China’s Population Falls, Heralding a Demographic Crisis." The New York Times, Jan 16, 2023.

  • Pletcher, Kenneth, "One-Child Policy," Encyclopedia Britannia.

  • Presse, Agence France, "China Unveils New Perks Aimed at Boosting Slowing Birth Rate," Barron's, Aug. 16, 2022.

  • Stevenson, Alexandra, "China Offers Women Perks for Having Babies. Single Moms Don’t Qualify," The New York Times, July 6, 2022.


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