Printed: 2019-05-19

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies





IEET Link: https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/naam20151107

Did the One Child Policy Matter? Probably Not.

Ramez Naam


rameznaam


http://rameznaam.com/2015/10/30/did-the-one-child-policy-matter-probably-not/

November 07, 2015

China’s one-child policy is ending. The policy, started in 1979-80, was aimed at slowing population growth, which was much more of a concern in the late 70s than it is now. China’s one-child policy was also horribly coercive.

Men bursting in and forcing miscarriages. Forced abortions for millions. Really the stuff of dystopian nightmares.

Did that coercive policy have any impact at all on population? A look at the data suggests not, or at best, not much.

You can look at the data yourself here.

Two observations:

Now, all of these nations, and especially China, are dealing with a rapidly aging population, and a lack of young people. Ending the one-child policy, while good from the standpoint of freedom, is unlikely to substantially lift China’s birth rate.

1. China’s birth rate was already plummeting. It fell rapidly from 1965 to 1980, when the policy went into effect. For the next decade, the first decade of the one-child policy, the birth rate stayed roughly flat.

2. Other Asian nations saw birth rates plummet as much or more. Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore – all rapidly developing, as China was – all saw their birth rates plummet. On a percentage basis, since 1980, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam have all seen fertility drop more than in China.

The IMF agrees.


Ramez Naam, a Fellow of the IEET, is a computer scientist and the author of four books, including the sci-fi thriller Nexus and the nonfiction More than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement and The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet.  He writes at rameznaam.com.



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