The mainland’s one-child policy has helped prevent a population explosion. This has been crucial amid the nation’s poverty relief efforts, rapid urbanisation and phenomenal economic growth. But it is a social policy soaked in blood.
By creating a gender imbalance that has produced an estimated 38 million more males since 1980, Nankai University population researcher Yuan Xin has observed that statistically, this must translate into a comparable loss in the number of females. The females are believed to have been lost either through abortion or killing after birth. The heavy price China will pay for this draconian policy will become increasingly apparent in coming years.
News headlines often focus on the dangers a male-heavy population pose to China. Experience from around the world has shown how frustrated young men are more prone to radical politics; they also contribute to higher crime rates. With no family to rely on in their old age, they become a heavy burden on social security.
But the toll on females is even heavier. A meticulous demographic study produced on the mainland in 1990 estimated that about 39,000 baby girls died annually because parents did not give them the same medical care and attention that boys received. And that was only in the first year of life. There is scant evidence that the situation has improved in the intervening two decades. A male-dominated culture has long favoured boys over girls, but the one-child policy has simply exacerbated the gender imbalance.