Chinese officials have announced the dismiss of the one-child policy, following first easing on its rules applied in 2013. The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 to control the exceptional population growth. It has always been very controversial with forced sterilizations and abortions.
China has the largest population in the world. With nearly 1,404 million people, China represents 19.24% of the world’s population. 54% live in the big cities and the average population density is 145 people per km2. The median age is 35.7 years. The USA has 322 million inhabitants with a population density of 34 people per km2.
Communist China started realizing they had a problem halfway the seventies. Since 1955, the population had grown with 50%. At this rate, huge problems of over-population were expected. Previous efforts to reduce births using information campaigns had failed. In 1979 a law was passed which allowed couples to have only one child. Some exceptions were made in rural areas, where couples were allowed a second child if the first one was a girl.
Inspectors were sent around the country to check if the law was being obeyed. This resulted in huge human tragedies where women were forced to have an abortion. Many girls were abandoned or aborted because most couples preferred boys. This resulted in a huge unbalance in gender. In the age group under 35, there are 10% more boys than girls; resulting in 28 million Chinese boys who won’t find a wife to start a family. The normal ratio is 51.9 boys to 48.1 girls.
Since they managed to reduce the yearly population growth to 0.6 %, China is now facing the problem of a rapidly aging population. 30 years from now, the working population (hardly 45%) will have to support the large group of elderly people. Government statistics expect that by 2040, 25% of the population will be older than 65 years which means that the government will be facing huge challenges with health care. China has a tradition of children taking care of their retired parents. As a result of the one-child policy, every young couple will now have to take care of 4 parents with a life expectancy of 75 years.