Friday, November 15, 2013

Unintended consequences - in Chinese homes

When we Americans look at changes in China, we often think "well those Commies are at it again" or "finally those Commies are using some common sense." OK, maybe you don't look at it that way; perhaps it's just a personal problem.

But when the Chinese government makes a change, it's not doing so to address the American public. It's doing so to address Chinese interests.

And it's important to look at China's relaxing of the "one child" policy through Chinese eyes.

The policy was initially established to address a rapidly expanding population, on the assumption that if China reduced its population growth, it would become more prosperous.

But the decline in the birth rate had an unintended consequence:

Traditionally in China, a son or daughter is often relied upon to provide material assistance to parents and grandparents.

And when there are fewer sons and daughters...

The one-child policy is having a distorting effect on a modernizing society of 1.3 billion whose 194 million citizens over age 60 have few children to rely on for aid. China also needs more workers to maintain economic growth and generate tax revenues to care for a growing elderly population.

And the balance of the population was also affected:

Last year, a government think tank urged China's leaders to start phasing out the policy and allow two children for every family by 2015, saying the country had paid a "huge political and social cost."

The China Development Research Foundation said the policy had resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance because of illegal abortions of female fetuses and the infanticide of baby girls by parents who cling to a traditional preference for a son.

So now there are few young Chinese men, and even fewer young Chinese women. I wonder if Russian women are advertising in Chinese newspapers, offering to become brides.
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