China can claim to have curbed its birth rate to around 1.5 children per woman since the policy was introduced in 1979.Imagine how it would feel to be Chinese, born in China, and to have no legal status inside China.
Without the birth limits, which no other country applies as rigorously or on such a scale, the world's most populous nation would have hundreds of millions more mouths to feed than the 1.34 billion it has now.
But from modern cities to remote villages, its implementation has involved abuses from mass sterilisation to abortions as late as eight months into the pregnancy. Baby girls have also been abandoned and killed.
Couples who defy the rule can face fines amounting to several years' salary, have access to social services cut and even go to prison. Their so-called "black children" have no legal status in China. _News.Yahoo.com
The one-child policy is having other effects on China -- it is causing the country's population to grow old very quickly.
...three decades on, demographers, sociologists and economists are warning of a looming crisis as China becomes the only developing country in the world to face growing old before it grows rich.If each child becomes responsible for two parents and four grandparents, what if that "one child" dies? The social safety net can fall apart rather quickly in a country with an upside-down population pyramid.
China's crisis is approaching "incomparably faster" than in Europe, where fertility has fallen very gradually over the last century, Paris-based demographer Christophe Guilmoto told AFP.
In the next five years the number of people in China over 60 will jump from 178 million to 221 million -- 13.3 percent to 16 percent of the population -- according to the People's Daily Online
By 2050, a quarter of China's population will be over 65, the Commission for Population and Family Planning said, compared to just nine percent today.
Already, half of China's over-60s live alone, a situation unthinkable before, when four generations would live under one roof.
The upside-down pyramid -- whereby a single child shoulders responsibility for two parents and four grandparents -- is a major headache for the government, particularly as unemployment rises, forcing more and more people to migrate to cities for work.
Liang Zhongtang, a demographer involved in family planning, said the pressure would grow as Chinese born between 1962 and 1972 retire. _YahooNews
What if China relaxed its one-child rule. Would fertility quickly jump back up where it was prior to the policy?
"Even if China relaxes the one-child policy, I believe there won't be many couples wanting too many children", He told AFP, as middle-class couples around the world opt increasingly for smaller families.A society where children have no brothers or sisters, uncles or aunts, no cousins...that is a society where alienation could easily occur. This alienation and potential indifference to the sufferings of others, was on full display recently when a 2 year old girl named Yue Yue was left bleeding in the middle of a Guangdong road by several passers-by.
Guilmoto is hopeful that fertility might rise in the future, even if "this is very uncertain when we look at the most advanced regions where it comes close to one child per woman".
Women are increasingly deciding against having children at all, opting instead to pursue careers and enjoy their growing material wealth.
But the southern province of Guangdong -- the engine of China's economy with its 104 million residents -- this month decided against relaxing the policy.
China's most populous province ruled there would be "no major adjustments" to the policy in the next five years, said Zhang Feng, head of the Population and Family Planning Commission. _News.Yahoo.com
The Chinese preference for sons has led to a disproportionate number of male youth -- an excess into the millions. This imbalance is likely to grow worse over time, leading to a dangerous male youth bulge that could easily lead to internal unrest, or war.