This latest change allows for each couple to have two children, something most couples were already permitted. It is certainly not a “scrapping” of the policy, as many headlines have screamed. And after decades of the government telling people they really don’t want more than one child, not everyone wants to take advantage of the latest change.
There are several ways in which China’s Family Planning policies are enforced – social welfare benefits, and fines for additional children. IUDs, sterilisations, and abortions are also used liberally to maintain a low birth rate. The big problem comes when officials’ career prospects are tied to minimising births in their jurisdiction – opening the door to abuses of power.
There’s been a lot of press this week about China ending the One Child Policy. The story is more complicated than most people realise. Many couples were never restricted to one child in the first place. In this post I’ll explain the history of the policy, and what it really entails.