Shanghai Re-Thinks the National Family Planning Policy

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Word arrives that the authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai are going to reverse the ruling that was applied by the National Authorities some 30 years ago now to control population growth. Originally, the policy known unofficially as the One Child Policy, was designed to slow what was considered a very rapidly growing population in China, especially in the cities.

There are some who suggest that the entire world needs to consider the impacts of growing populations and longer life spans on our planets resources. The policy implemented in China looked heavy handed from the outside when it was first announced, but authorities have since claimed that during the first 2 decades alone the policy put a stop to over 250 million births. The policy wasn't without its critics - not so much for the idea itself - but because of its implementation over time. It has been implicated in the increase in forced abortions and female infanticides in a culture that seems to prize the male birth over the female. And, it was not a clear incentive, allowing for all sorts of exceptions, such as rural couples. Nonetheless, though the results are arguably a mixed bag and not without some social consequences, it seems to have stopped a rapidly growing population in China over this period.

But, Shanghai's authorities, taking a close look at trends and numbers have apparently decided that instead of discouraging 2 children per married couple, they need to encourage a slightly larger family to support what they see as a declining younger generation compared with a larger elderly generation. Now, it remains to be seen what the broader Chinese authority will make of all of this.

To read more about this you can see the article in the London Guardian Newspaper. And if you want more detailed analysis you can visit the Wikipedia spot on the policy.