By: Molly Gase
The one child policy of China may seem incomprehensible to Americans, but to those native to China, it is an everyday fact of life.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Juan Yi came to The University of Akron to speak as a part of China Week. Her lecture focused on the One Child Policy, which was enacted in 1979 to serve as a means of population control for the nation of China.
According to Yi, prior to this legislation there were approximately six children per family, 54 billion people and an inability to care for all of them. However, even before the policy was put in place, the fertility rate had been dropping as the decades passed. In 1949 the rate was 6.2 percent, falling to 2.9 percent in 1979 when the policy was introduced.
Yi attributed this drop to an increase in contraceptives, sometimes delivered door to door. Abortion also contributed after it became legal in 1953.
Yi explained that China has a collectivist value system and as such, the values of the collective unit outweigh those of the individual. Thanks to a system of monetary awards and punishments that were tied to the policy, resistance in urban areas is minimal, although it does occur in rural areas.
“They need sons to help with the farming,” Yi said.
Families whose first born child is a girl are allowed to wait and attempt to have a son five years later. Yi explained that parents often see males as being more able to help with labor, protect the family in the parents’ old age and to continue the lineage of the family. The continuation of the family name is of great importance in China.
Yi expressed the growing concern that the decrease in the female population resulting from the One Child Policy will have a negative impact in the future. With the numbers of females dropping at a steady rate, there is a fear of tipping the scales too much in favor of male children.