A Population Problem

September 1, 2018
By NuclearVacuum [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
It wasn’t that long ago (1979 to be exact) when China instituted a “one-child policy.” What’s that? Well, it was a policy that limited families to having only one child. Why? Because at the time, the leaders of the Communist Party thought that China’s overpopulation problem would become a bigger problem if they didn’t do something drastic about it. After all, China’s population in 1979 was already at 969 million people—nearly 175 million greater than its population just ten years ago—and it had been steadily growing year over year. Well, despite how controversial the policy was (does a government really have the right to tell families how many children they should have?), the policy was enforced and the country’s population growth slowed, just like the government had planned. What they didn’t plan was the impact that policy would have … say … forty years later. It seemed that the one-child policy might have worked too well—so well in fact, that the government began to worry that there wouldn’t be enough workers to grow the future economy. After all, the Chinese population was aging; who would fill the jobs of those retiring? So naturally, the government decided to change the one-child policy. In 2015, the government changed its one-child policy to a two-child policy, and even encouraged families to have more than one child. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, and a majority of couples still chose to have only one child. With further concern that there wouldn’t be enough people to fuel the work force, the government is now working on lifting the policy altogether by March 2020. What does this mean? Well, it means that the government will no longer control how many children a couple can have. Seems like a complete 180, but we’ll just have to wait and see if lifting a policy that has been in place for such a long time will actually change the way people plan for the future.

Do you think a change in government policy can change the people’s behavior? If you could offer a solution to China’s population problem, what would it be?