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An Alternative to the One-Child Policy in China

John Bongaarts and Susan Greenhalgh
Population and Development Review
Vol. 11, No. 4 (Dec., 1985), pp. 585-617
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1973456
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1973456
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Alternative to the One-Child Policy in China
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Abstract

During the 1970s China's fertility fell at a pace not previously experienced by any other population over a comparable span of time. However, the policies that helped to produce this fertility decline have had a number of undesirable consequences, particularly the social and economic costs imposed on China's families. This paper considers problems with and alternatives to China's birth limitation programs. Accepting as given the Chinese government's goal of stabilizing the population at 1.2 billion by the year 2000, the paper first reviews the likely potential demographic and socioeconomic effects of current and past policies. It then explores policy alternatives, mostly variants of a stop-at-two rule, and their benefits compared with the current one-child policy. The overall aim is to demonstrate that a two-child policy, if accompanied by delayed childbearing, can be as effective as the one-child policy in achieving China's macrodemographic goals. The projections in this study demonstrate that it is possible to limit population size to less than 1.2 billion in 2000 under a strictly enforced stop-at-two policy with a minimum age at first birth of as low as 25 years. While the two-child policy would be as effective in limiting population size as the one-child policy, it would be easier to implement and would have less detrimental consequences for the society and economy.

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