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China’s three-child policy

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


China’s three-child policy


China’s legislature has formally amended the country’s family planning rules to allow couples to have three children, also announcing a number of policy measures aimed at boosting declining birth rates.


What necessitated this?

The changes come in the wake of China’s once-in-ten year population census that recorded rapidly declining birth rates over the past decade.

  • The National Bureau of Statistics said that 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961.


Firstly, why was one-child policy implemented?

China embarked upon its one-child policy in 1980, when the Communist Party was concerned that the country’s growing population, which at the time was approaching one billion, would impede economic progress.

  • It was enforced through several means, including incentivising families financially to have one child, making contraceptives widely available, and imposing sanctions against those who violated the policy.


Criticisms associated with this policy:

Chinese authorities have long hailed the policy as a success, claiming that it helped the country avert severe food and water shortages by preventing up to 40 crore people from being born.

However, the one-child limit was also a source of discontent, as:

  1. The state used brutal tactics such as forced abortions and sterilisations.
  2. It violated human rights, and was unfair to poorer Chinese since the richer ones could afford to pay economic sanctions if they violated the policy.
  3. It gave way for enforcing reproductive limits as a tool for social control.
  4. It affected the sex ratio- skewed towards males.
  5. It led to abortion of female fetuses rose and so did the number of girls who were placed in orphanages or abandoned.
  6. It made China’s population age faster than other countries, impacting the country’s growth potential.


Why was it discontinued?

Fears of a rapidly ageing population undermining economic growth forced the ruling Communist Party to allow two children per married couple.


What necessitated further reforms?

While the relaxation did result in some improvement in the proportion of young people in the country, the policy change was deemed insufficient in averting an impending demographic crisis.


Challenges ahead:

Experts say relaxing limits on reproductive rights alone cannot go a long way in averting an unwanted demographic shift.

The main factors behind fewer children being born are:

  1. Rising costs of living, education and supporting ageing parents.
  2. Country’s pervasive culture of long working hours.
  3. Many couples believing that one child is enough, and some expressing no interest in having children.

Know about China’s latest census report, 


Insta Curious:

Have a brief overview of UP’s Two Child Policy. Reference



Prelims Link:

  1. What is one child policy?
  2. Family planning in India.
  3. Schemes and policies by Government in this regard.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with One Child Policy.

Sources: the Hindu.