The Negative Impact of the One Child Policy on the Chinese Society as it Relates to the Parental Support of the Aging Population
Powell, Tabitha M.
This thesis examines the one child policy and how it has impacted the overall family structure, for the purpose of this thesis, mainly the elderly. When the one child policy was introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1979, the Chinese population was at one billion. China was not prepared for the rapid population growth. Thirty years later, the Chinese are living longer but China is not as prepared for the rapid aging population. China currently has more than 177 million people aged 60 or above, and the number is predicted to reach 450 million, or one quarter of the country's total population, by the middle of the century, according to statistics from the latest national census released this year. This increase dramatically affects economic development and social welfare. As this paper will discuss, China is faced with the problem of not enough children to take care of the elderly parents.According CIA World Factbook in 2011 the life expectancy in China's life expectancy at birth for the total population is 74.68 years. Males are 72.68 years and females are 76.94 years.Definition: This entry contains the average number of years to be lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. The entry includes total population as well as the male and female components. Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures.As Deng was concerned with reducing the population growth rate, he did not consider the negative influence that the reduction in family size would have on the elderly. Aging and longevity was not a prominent public policy issue. From the macro perspective the main issue was reducing the number of babies being born, in hopes of reducing future population growth. This approach to population control has its negative implications. From the micro perspective did anyone consider the traditional family structure in rural and urban China? The children are the future adults and workforce for the economy. The current adults will become the future elderly. In the traditional family, the future adults are needed as care takers of the future elderly. By implementing the one child policy, China inadvertently caused the current elder care problem. There is no quick fix that will slow the rapid aging population. The one child policy may have caused the problem, but ending the policy will not resolve the immediate issues. After reading several journal articles and books, it is concluded that by ending the one child policy or increasing the number of children a couple can have will not resolve the elder care problem. The government will need to implement provisions now. This paper will discuss the above issues.In order to support my thesis that the one child policy was not the answer to the population growth in 1978 and that the policy caused the current elder care problems, this paper will begin with what social issues led up to the population problem. The scope of this thesis covers China's history from 1949 to modern China. Chapter I, "Introduction: From 1949 to Modern China", gives a brief historical background of China's leadership under Mao Zedong and the effects his leadership had on the creation of the one child policy. This will include the four campaigns that were intricate stepping stones to the one child policy: The First Five Year Plan, the Second Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. It will discuss the fertility patterns at the time the policy was imposed and its implications of continued high levels of population growth. It will also discuss the alternatives for reducing fertility rates. Chapter one will define the one child policy, its implementation and how it has changed over time.Chapter II, THE FAMILY, will cover how the family is affected by the one child policy. It will discuss the policies impact on fertility rates, the sex ratio, female infanticide and traditional marriage. It will also discuss the rapidly aging population. Chapter III, TAKING CARE OF FAMILY, will discuss the general meanings of filial piety and also discuss the family values associated and how the one child policy is a contradiction to filial piety. It will discuss the 4-2-1 problem and how the one-child policy has led to the need for institutional care because of gender role changes. It will discuss the legislation that was put in place to ensure that the elderly would have the right to take their children to court if necessary for financial support. The Law also encouraged the children to respect their elderly. This respect was becoming extinct because of the modernization and the individual loss of traditional values, such as filial piety. Chapter IV, RETIREMENT POLICY AND PENSION SYSTEMS, will discuss China's retirement policy and summarize the findings from a case study completed by Tamara Trinh at the Deutsche Bank Research on the pension system. This case covers the demographics of the pension system and exploits the problems within the system. Chapter V, RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGE, will discuss the programs for elder care that are now in place and recommendations for other social services. It was also discuss if it is time to end the one child policy.
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