China’s one-child policy will leave lasting damage, expert warns

By Kate Scanlon

Beijing, China, Aug 29, 2019 / 04:05 pm (CNA).- Although China announced it was ending its one-child policy in 2015, the effects of the communist regime’s controversial measure will be felt for generations to come, an expert has warned.

Amid renewed calls for population control in the face of environmental concerns, a new documentary, One Child Nation, has refocused wider attention on the one-child policy, which capped the number of children for most couples in China from the late 1970s.

In an interview Thursday on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, warned that “generations will see their family tree with all the branches shorn away.”

“The second generation of only children have no cousins, no aunts, no uncles,” he added. “The typical family in China now has four grandparents, two parents, and one child. Maybe two, now. But you can see the family, which has been so important in Chinese culture and history, has now been devastated by the one-child policy.”

Mosher said the policy prevented 400 million births.

“That’s 400 million of the most productive, enterprising, hardworking people the planet has ever seen,” he said. They’ve killed off half of two generations.”

One Child Nation explores some of the ramifications of China’s one-child policy, including human trafficking and the abandonment of infants, particularly female infants. The policy was often brutally enforced by sterilization or forced abortion, a practice Mosher said he witnessed during a visit to China in 1980.

“It was a horrifying experience,” Mosher said, speaking to host Catherine Hadro, “for me, and of course even more drastic and horrifying for the women.”

Mosher praised One Child Nation as “a good documentary,” but expressed frustration that he feels as if some members of the media have responded to the documentary as if hearing about China’s brutal population practices for the first time.

“The policy started in 1980,” Mosher said. “It ended a couple years ago but there’s still abuses in China. Where were they, for the last forty years in reporting on this?”

China announced it would relax the policy in 2015, permitting most couples to have two children, but experts say many of the same human rights abuses continue.

Although China has the largest population of any nation, its fertility rate remains below the replacement level. Mosher said after decades of trying to curtail its population, China might now start seeking to inflate it.

“The state is now pressuring people to have a minimum of two children so you can see the trajectory,” Mosher said. “We’ve gone from forcing people to stop at one child to encouraging them to have two and now saying, ‘you’ve got to have two.’ Party members have been told they must have two, they must lead by example.”

Mosher added that he is concerned that China’s demographic recession might lead it to take more drastic measures to increase its population, such as forced pregnancies, in much the same way it acted to prevent families from having children.

Kate Scanlon is a producer of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

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  1. “ ‘The state is now pressuring people to have a minimum of two children so you can see the trajectory . . .’ Mosher added that he is concerned that China’s demographic recession might lead it to take more drastic measures to increase its population, such as forced pregnancies, in much the same way it acted to prevent families from having children.”
    Oh, I am quite certain that China will do exactly that–try to force pregnancies. Romania did not. It did not work so well.


    A huge societal problem is hovering like a dark cloud over modern Chinese society due to their past one child policy. With only mother and father and two sets of grandparents, the lone child, (usually a male), grows up “unsocialized.” Some Chinese parents send their lone son to camps to be socialized. In Chinese society he (usually a boy) is referred to as “the Little Emperor,” because, as the lone child and heir, he is often spoiled rotten by his parents and grandparents. Obesity is one of the pervasive “sicknesses” of modern Chinese children. “The Little Emperor” has no idea what it means to have uncles and aunts and cousins, because—due to China’s one-child policy— he doesn’t have any and has never had this beautiful experience in his life. When he gets big and finds employment, he will have to support eight people: a wife, two parents, two sets of grandparents, and himself (and perhaps a lone son). And who’s going to pay for his and his wife’s pensions when they get old?

    China’s 2017 fertility rate is estimated to be 1.6, which means that, on average, each woman gives birth to 1.6 children throughout her life. The necessary total fertility rate for a stable population is 2.1; nonetheless, China’s population is expected to remain stable until 2030, even though there will be 5 million fewer women of childbearing age. After 2030, China’s population is expected to decline.

    This is the situation in China today with its one-child policy. This one-child policy is a time-bomb waiting to explode. There’s nothing China can do to stave off this demographic disaster, a demographic winter, as some call it. It’s too late now. They’ve consumed their seed reserve. Next to Japan, China has one of the oldest populations in the world.

    India will soon become the most populous country in the world. By 2024, China’s population is expected to reach 1.44 billion, as is India’s. After that, India is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country, as India is growing more quickly than China. As of 2017, India has an estimated total fertility rate of 2.43, which is above replacement value.

    What are the long-term effects of China’s one-child policy? The aftereffects mean that the population overall is aging rapidly, causing issues for its dependency ratio, or the number of workers projected to be supporting the amount of elderly in the population, which was 14 percent in 2015 but is expected to grow to 44 percent in 2050. This will put a strain on social services in the country and may mean that it invests less, including in its own economy. The situation is irreversible.

    What does all this mean to the United States? What does it mean to the recent China-Vatican entente?

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