Free Population And Migration: China’s One Child Policy, Article Critique Critical Thinking Sample
In the Economist article, “Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy,” the authors consider the policy that was originally implemented to spur China’s economic growth, namely its one-child policy. The article examines the plethora of social and cultural issues associated with China’s one-child policy, and analyzes whether it is time to reevaluate the usefulness of the policy altogether. The article’s main focus, however, is on the growing demographic crisis that the policy has caused. According to the article, as China’s population gets older, the one-child policy has left a multiple generations of only-children to care you the massive number of senior citizens. To be sure, under the one-child policy, one child is often left with the responsibility of caring for two parents and up to four grandparents. The article concludes with the argument that despite the one-child policy’s social disadvantages socially; the impact of simply rescinding it might have no effect on China’s continuing decline in the number of children born and increase in aging population. However, despite the article’s claim that the one-child policy has led to a demographic crisis; it fails to fully analyze two other important problems. First, under the history, tradition and the culture of family, the one-child policy has resulted in a growing gender imbalance where the desire for boy babies has lead to pervasive sex-selective abortions, the abandonment of daughters and female baby infanticide(“China’s boy-girl ratio”). According to the Pew Research Center, China’s current boy-girl ratio, which stands at 118 boys born per 100 girls, is the most unbalanced in the world. Second, the one-child policy has led to a shrinking workforce just as China needs more labor to power its red-hot growth. In essence, the policy is producing results that run counter to its original goal fostering economic prosperity.
Without a doubt, globalization has changed the world. Payne suggests that globalization is one of the primary forces driving population migration and demographic changes that are occurring in today’s world. Indeed, more than ever before, it is possible for people to move around outside of their locality in search of work or a better life. Moreover, it is unlikely that the world will see a return to a pre-globalized state. Nevertheless, a new globalized world presents as many challenges as it does benefits. The traditional idea was that when capital is allowed to move freely, it will tend to migrate to where there is an abundant supply of cheap labor. However, there are some places that are more restrictive in who is allowed to move and the amount of foreign capital that can be invested domestically. Both of these ideas have been illustrated in China. On the one hand, its huge population of cheap labor has led to an explosion of western companies setting up factories there. On the other hand, the Chinese government’s restrictions on population movement and capital inflows have created barriers to the full enjoyment of the economic benefits of globalization.
China’s birth control measures have been in place since the 1970s. The earliest forms of population control, however, were not as strict as the formal one-child policy that was announced on September 25, 1980. The earlier measures offered certain benefits as an incentive to persuade families not to have a large number of children. After the promulgation of the official one-child policy, there was an increased use of more draconian measures such as punishing, rather than persuading, families not to have more than one child (“Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy”). According to the article the implementation of the policy was not particularly comprehensive. Less than 40 percent of the population in China was actually covered by the policy. The article goes on to show that the one-child policy is a major contributing factor to China’s current demographic crisis. The authors suggest that the only solution is to persuade Chinese families to have more children. The problem, however, is that the policy has been in place for so long that the current generation of Chinese families, especially those living in urban areas, have grown accustomed to not having large families or extended families. The article authors seem to fear that, when given an option; Chinese families would be unwilling to have more children than the one that is currently allowed.
The one-child policy has resulted in much bigger problems than an ageing population that can be relieved through flexible immigration policies. The more important consequence of the policy is the growing gender imbalance. China has a traditional preference for boys. Consequently, when families were told they could have only one child, they began to have targeted abortions when they found they were having baby girls (“Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy”). While this would not likely occur, in western countries, the Chinese preference for baby boys is so intense that the desire for a male child outweighs the joys of beginning a family. Under the one-child policy Chinese parents knew they have only one chance to have a boy; that led to the cultural preference for a single male child. China’s gender problem will have long-term effects economically and well as socially. One of the central arguments that the article makes is that raising the one child limit to two children would change the sociocultural factors that are affecting China’s population. The Economist writes, for instance, that city of Yicheng, had been trying a two-child policy for 25 years. Despite its more relaxed regulations, however, the county has a lower-than-average population growth rate. Essentially, the Economist is suggests that even with the more relaxed rules regarding how many children are possible in a family, most Chinese people will choose to have smaller families than they would have in the past. There is evidence to support this claim in some parts of China. According to the article, however, a lack of transparency in the methodology has led to questions about the census data, along with many other types of reports relevant to quantifying the population. The Economist article is certainly written for an audience of businesspersons. Many people do business in China, so there are many of American and European businesspeople that have a significant interest in what is happening in China. Major demographic changes as well as an aging population could have adverse effects for the business world in China (“Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy”). As mentioned, western companies have been coming to China to take advantage of its abundance in cheap labor, if that advantage proves less so, foreign investment might turn to other nations.
Another problem associated with the one-child policy is that many of the second children born in violation of the policy who have not been sanctioned by the government technically do not exist. This means that all of those individuals will have difficulty getting employment and schooling for their whole lives. Moreover, they will also be unable to get a passport, and will not be able to travel outside of China. They are, essentially, trapped by the circumstances of their birth (“Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy”). These effects can be seen not only in the Chinese market, but also in the Indian market. The Economist suggests that even the most cosmopolitan expat usually feel an affinity with others who share the same language, culture or heritage. That is why Chinese diaspora networks are so powerful, and why some of the world's most influential people rely on them so heavily. Some diasporas are vast and global. For example, there are an estimated 60 million overseas Chinese, including significant numbers in nearly all countries. They create a web of cross-border connections. Furthermore, all those expats are more likely to cite a paper by someone of their own ethnicity than you would expect if such ties made no difference. (“Tribes Still Matter”). This means that if the Chinese were to grow larger families, they would have a larger diaspora network, and this could have potentially positive effects on the Chinese economy. It also could have negative effects, especially if the Chinese people begin to have more children than the current projections suggest. Changes in the diaspora network of Chinese could potentially be disastrous for the Chinese government as well, especially if large numbers of Chinese flock from the countryside to Chinese cities. Essentially, the problem of the Chinese one-child policy is that it is unsustainable for a long period of time. There may be positive or negative effects on the market system worldwide when the policy is lifted, but there is no way for the Chinese government to sustain its current level of growth for years to come without experiencing a seriously devastating aging problem. In addition, the loss of nearly an entire generation of girls to systematic abortions has changed the dating scene in China in ways that people did not predict. It is likely that the one child policy in conjunction with the few females available will mean that the birth rate in China will continue to drop regardless of whether the Chinese lift the one child policy or whether they allow it to remain. Understanding that this type of population manipulation is particularly cruel and inefficient is something that the Chinese government must do, however; without this realization it is easy to foresee continual problems with population control in China in the future. There is no easy solution to China’s population problem; raising the restriction could lead to an impossibly large population boom, but keeping the restrictions could easily lead to a crisis with an aging population that has no one to take care of them.
Livingston, Gretchen. “Will the end of China’s one-child policy shift its boy-girl ratio?” Pew Research Center. pewresearch.org, 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
Payne, Richard J. Global Issues. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.
“Rethinking China’s One-Child Policy,” Economist. economist.com, 21 August 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
“Tribes Still Matter,” Economist. economist.com, 22 January 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
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