From the Christian Science Monitor, an interesting look at a town that has had great success at lowering the birth rates, without imposing the national one-child policy:
For the past 21 years, the citizens of Yicheng County, in the mining province of Shanxi, have been exempt from the “one-child policy” on which the Chinese government has founded its bid to keep a lid on its vast population. They have been allowed to have two children. Yet Yicheng’s birth-rate is lower than the national average.
“If the whole country had adopted the Yicheng policy from the start, we could have kept China’s population under 1.2 billion,” below the official target for 2000, says Tan Kejian, of Shanxi’s provincial Academy of Social Sciences. “And this policy was much easier for peasants to accept.”
Central government officials chal- lenge Mr. Kejian’s conclusions. But the government-sanctioned Yicheng experiment, almost unknown outside family-planning circles, is under increasingly interested scrutiny from Chinese experts as the “one-child policy” approaches what appears to be the end of its life, after 27 years. [Full text]