End of an era? China's one-child policy and its unintended consequences

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At the end of 2015, China put an end to the one-child policy (OCP), thereby terminating the largest family planning program in human history. For nearly four decades it had shaped relations between generations and between men and women to an extent never before seen. Today, China struggles with the unintended consequences of the OCP. It has resulted in the so-called 4-2-1 family structure, in which the only children had four grandparents and two parents to care for them when they grew up, but where they have to shoulder the care of four grandparents and two parents when they come of age, because both cultural values and legal prescriptions foresee reciprocal care responsibilities between generations. This has led to an enormous care deficit, which triggers conflicts between both genders and generations. A second major unintended consequence has been a skewed gender ratio of only 18 women per 20 men because of the strong preference for boys, which has led to so-called “bare branches:” Chinese men who are not able to find a spouse or have to rely on “mail-order brides.” The paper concludes that the OCP has come to an end, but the unintended consequences prevail.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Social Work and Policy Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)326-338
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2016

ID: 166053865