This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

One-Child Policy in China Still Biting People

Although the Chinese government has loosened the noose a little bit on the one-child policy, there are obviously still abuses, as reported by BBC News
Zhang Rundong is a little boy with big eyes and a serious expression, standing on the edge of the noisy group of children. He is the Zhang family's illegal second son, born in violation of the country's one-child policy.

In retaliation for the boy's birth, officials are withholding his identity papers. Without them, he cannot access healthcare or free education, travel within his country or even use a library.
The fines are large relative to a peasant family's income and since penalties are assessed at the local level, there is a variability in the country in terms of how this is administered.
This month, China's one-child policy was relaxed, allowing some couples to have two children. But nothing has changed for an estimated 10-20 million children already born in violation of the original policy. 
In their simple home, the Zhangs detailed their ongoing battle with the local officials, starting with the failure of Mrs Zhang's government-mandated birth control.
"I was scared when I found out I was pregnant again," she said. "Of course, I was a little bit happy too. So I didn't want the other villagers to find out and force me to abort the baby."
Following their son's secret birth, the couple borrowed from friends and relatives to pay a fine totalling almost $10,000 (£6,100). Across China, more than $3.3bn in similar fines were paid by families in the year 2012 alone - though it is unclear where that money ends up. Critics believe the fines are used as extra income for local governments.
These are, of course, the kinds of human rights abuses that have made the one-child policy so notorious on the world stage. The evidence that I have seen suggests that fertility would remain low in China even without the one-child policy, and these kinds of abuses are further evidence that it is well past time to be rid of the policy.

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