China Past Due: One Child Policy

For her series, China Past Due, on PRI’s The World, Mary Kay Magistad looks at the debate over the one-child policy, as many people think the government should end the policy which has been prone to abuse in its 30 year history. Others, however, fear that continued population growth in China would cause the country to collapse:

Sun and other advocates of the One-Child policy say that’s why it should continue, to let China’s population shrink back down to a more sustainable level.

Wang Feng of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center has a different view.

“These assumptions about the maximum population China can sustain was based on the technology of the 1970s,” Wang says. “It’s advanced considerably since then. China now has 30 percent more people, but all of them are eating better, living better, and we’re producing more grain, more efficiently.”

Yes, there’s pollution, he says, but that has less to do with how many people there are than with China’s choice to use mostly coal and poorly refined diesel as sources of energy.

“Whether the population shrinks, and how you get there, is a moral question,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a goal that should be set by anyone other than members of society, responding to the happy effect of longevity, as a result of human progress. It shouldn’t be designed by scholars and implemented by government.”

Read more about the one-child policy in China, via CDT.


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