Implemented in 1980 with the aim of curbing its 970 million population, China’s controversial One-Child Policy was initially a temporary measure, but after 36 years of its enforcement it was ultimately the negative effects of the policy that led to its end.
The policy was introduced during the formative years of China’s declaration as a Republic. As years of population growth began to overtake the available food supply, it was inevitable that the government had to take action.
While the exact effects of the policy remain unknown, and will likely remain this way for many years to come, some experts say it has had a relatively minimal effect on the population size and they even dispute the claims put forward by the government that the policy has prevented hundreds of millions of births.
Today, China is the worst country in the world for gender imbalance, with the ratio of boys greatly outweighing that of girls. While this is partly due to the cultural preference of having a son over a daughter, it especially saw an increase following the implementation of the One-Child Policy which allowed the abortion of female foetuses.
An obvious, yet at the time unthought-of, side effect of the policy was the ratio of China's population pre-One Child Policy and those born under the policy. With the vast majority of China’s population born before the introduction of the policy, it means that China has a very old population.
As the larger proportion of the population reaches retirement, the younger generations aren’t sufficient enough to fulfil all of their places. Consequently, this has resulted in the shrinking of the Chinese workforce and this is expected to accelerate even further in the upcoming years.
However, not only does an ageing population mean that China has a shrinking workforce, but it also means that there is more pressure on the younger generations to care for their much larger older generations after their retirement.