Family Planning - The Peking Way

China, the world's most populous nation, is introducing a system of economic rewards and punishments geared to family size. Couples with fewer than two children will receive preferential treatment. The moves are the latest efforts to push the country's population growth rate, currently about 1.2 per cent, down to 0.5 per cent by 1985 and zero by the year 2000.

According to recent statistics from the Chinese government, China's 1979 Population was 975.23 million.

The new national birth control law which goes into effect this year includes a reduction in wages of five to 10 per cent after a third child and up to 20 Per cent after a fifth. Parents in such cases cannot be promoted in their jobs until the extra children are over 14 years of age.

One-child couples qualify for pay bonuses and higher pensions. They will also receive certificates entitling their child to preference in nursery school, medical care, high school, university and employment. A one-child family will get an annual bonus equivalent to a month's salary for the average worker. In Peking, housing will be allocated on the basis of two children, penalising large families and rewarding small ones.

The rate of population growth has generally been higher in the countryside where more hands have meant more work and more income. To try to alter this well-founded belief, the government will grant families with one offspring a private plot of land equal to that of families with two children.

The Chinese also believe that children are important to help care for them in their old age. So the government is attempting to tie pensions to family size. Parents with one or no children will receive the highest pensions.

The recently announced measures are the first significant changes in Chinese population policy since 1971 when men in cities had to wait until their 27th birthday to get married and women until 25. Free contraception, abortion and sterilisation operations were also provided.

mag cover This article is from the February 1980 issue of New Internationalist.
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