The debate on China’s one-child policy has gone very public. A recent poll on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging platform in China, asked the question, “Do you support allowing two children?” And it’s a 1984 Reagan-versus-Mondale style blowout. Out of 30,006 votes cast, 71.7% support abrogating the one-child policy, and only 28.3% want to keep it.
[…] When reading the survey results, however, the standard caveats apply: Those using Chinese social media tend to be younger, richer, and more educated than the Chinese population at large. Furthermore, only a small subset of that subset has chosen to participate in the poll. But the younger, richer, and digitally active Chinese who use social media regularly are many of the same people who will be making policy in the coming decades, and also making choices about whether or not to have children–and perhaps how many.
The most-read post on this debate appears to have come from Charles Xue, a well-known angel investor and web commenter. Xue describes how, “In the 50s…we blindly followed the Soviet Union, which had lost many people in the second world war and so encouraged births on a wide scale. They had few people and much land. The Dean of Peking University at that time, Ma Yinchu, felt that China had many people and not much [arable] land, with limited resources and primitive agricultural methods.” Xue describes how Ma thus suggested a limit of two children per household to keep birth rates normal.
[…] Now, thirty years later, “there are 20% fewer 20 year olds than there are 30 year olds!” The saddest part, according to Xue, is the shidu or “lost singles” families, Chinese slang for couples from the 50s and 60s who lived through great hardship, had their one child, then lost their one child to illness or accidents and are now forced to grow old with no one to care for them.