China’s notorious one-child policy has been in the hot seat recently, as some officials argue that the decades old law has served its purpose and is inappropriate for today’s economic and social environment. But perhaps what carries the most clout for a “one-child” policy reform is the recent discovery of a secret and successful “two-child” policy.
The Times reports that 25 years ago, China authorized a secret experiment in rural Yicheng County (located 560 miles outside of Beijing) in which families could have 2 children if they adhered to certain conditions. The results of this clandestine endeavor? A lower population rate than China’s national average, despite the opportunity and encouragement to pop out two little darlings.
The Times reports:
The population of the [Yicheng] county has grown over the 25-year period of the scheme by 20.7 per cent, which is nearly five percentage points lower than the national average, despite families being allowed two children. The experiment also appears to have redressed the imbalance between male and female births in China: the national average is 118 males to every 100 females, but in Yicheng the ratio was in line with the natural norm at 106 to 100.
Another surprising result? When given the opportunity, the couples preferred to only have one child anyway:
It appears, however, that some couples in the county wanted just one child anyway. One hospital doctor told The Times yesterday: “More and more people only want to have one child. It’s expensive to raise a second, especially in the town. The farmers still like to have two children.”
The findings of this experiment are met with warm welcome from some influential players, as Chinese legislators have been pushing for a relaxation of its family planning policy. China Daily reports that senior deputies to the National People’s Congress warn authorities of the severe consequences of continuing with its current family planning system, such as creating complications for China’s imbalanced population structure, aging population and long-term economic growth.
But the recent one-child policy debate within China has not yet prevented its effects from spilling over into Hong Kong, where experts claim that Hong Kong’s skewed sex ratio is one of the alarming consequences of the mainland’s draconian law. According to a report in EarthTimes.org, there has been an increase in the number of mainland Chinese women birthing male babies in Hong Kong since here it is legal for doctors to reveal the sex of babies. The article states that mainland Chinese women are literally crossing the border to check if their babies are male and, if so, having them right there in Hong Kong. EarthTimes.org reports:
The skewing of the balance of the sexes is the latest consequence of the easing of border restrictions between Hong Kong and China in 2003 and a landmark High Court ruling in 2001 that granted citizenship to any mainland Chinese child born in Hong Kong.
“The most plausible explanation for this [skewed sex ratio] is the practice of sex selection,” with one obstetrician commenting on cases where women canceled birth bookings after scans revealed they were carrying a female.”
Okay so the good news is that China’s archaic family planning policy is under some intense domestic pressure for actual reform. And the bad news is that it is essentially raining men in Hong Kong. Still, some experts see a bright side.
The article states that with some proper planning these children could breath some new youth into Hong Kong’s rapidly ageing economy. And as for massive long term effects? Experts predict that the tipping of the sex scale will only have a limited effect on the sex ratio overall, as many of these men will go on to continue the practice of marrying mainland women and bringing them back to Hong Kong.