China must take stock of its birth-planning policies and learn from the past
- China says its strict birth restrictions helped prevent a ‘population explosion’, but at what cost?
- A comprehensive assessment could seek to redress those wronged by brutal family-planning measures
One perspective among analysts is that China’s family-planning policy – in reality, its stringent birth restrictions – helped facilitate the country’s economic rise by staving off a “population explosion”.
Thus, China’s family planning was seemingly necessary, and it was the right policy to deliver its intended results. But times and circumstances have changed dramatically.
There have been various assessments of the policy, known as the biggest demographic experiment in human history.
A middle-of-the-road view may posit that China needed a family-planning policy, but its implementation was too brutal and too harsh.
China’s bureaucratic inertia prevented the policy from being modified in a timely and sufficient manner, and while its leaders are now voicing support for the three-child policy, many local family-planning agencies are still thinking of fining families with more than two children.
The purpose of such an assessment would not be to dictate who is right or wrong. It should be forward-looking – if the policy was a success, what good practices can China borrow from the past to encourage couples to have multiple children? And if it was a mistake, or if its implementation was problematic, what measures can be taken to correct some of the wrongs?
For instance, could fines collected from those violators of family-planning policies be refunded? Might past violators who lost jobs be repositioned? And could those who have suffered from brutal treatment be given restitution?