Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

China to allow couples for third child


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: One-Child Policy

China will for the first time allow couples to have a third child in a further relaxation of family planning rules five years after a “two-child policy” largely failed to boost birth rates.

Do you think that the One-Child Policy would be effective for population control in India?

What was the One-Child Policy?

  • China embarked upon its one-child policy in 1980 when the Communist Party was concerned that the country’s growing population, which at the time was approaching one billion, would impede economic progress.
  • The policy was implemented more effectively in urban areas.
  • It was enforced through several means, including incentivizing families financially to have one child, making contraceptives widely available, and imposing sanctions against those who violated the policy.

How well did the policy fare?

  • Chinese authorities have long hailed the policy as a success, claiming that it helped the country avert severe food and water shortages by preventing up to 40 crore people from being born.
  • However, the policy was also a source of discontent, as the state used brutal tactics such as forced abortions and sterilizations.
  • It also met criticism and remained controversial for violating human rights, and for being unfair to poorer Chinese since the richer ones could afford to pay economic sanctions if they violated the policy.
  • Additionally, China’s rulers have been accused of enforcing reproductive limits as a tool for social control.
  • The Uighur Muslim ethnic minority, for example, has been forced to have fewer children to restrict the growth of their population.

Demographic changes due to the policy

  • Due to the policy, while the birth rate fell, the sex ratio became skewed towards males.
  • This happened because of a traditional preference for male children in the country, due to which abortion of female fetuses rose and so did the number of girls who were placed in orphanages or abandoned.
  • Experts have also blamed the policy for making China’s population age faster than other countries, impacting the country’s growth potential.
  • It is also suggested that because of the long-lingering impact of the policy, China would be unable to reap the full benefits of its economic growth and will need other ways to support it.

Skeptics of the new move

  • Experts say relaxing limits on reproductive rights alone cannot go a long way in averting an unwanted demographic shift.
  • The main factors behind fewer children being born, they say, are rising costs of living, education, and supporting aging parents.
  • The problem is made worse by the country’s pervasive culture of long working hours.
  • There has also been a cultural shift during the decades in which the one-child policy remained in force, with many couples believing that one child is enough, and some expressing no interest in having children.

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