Family Planning in China

When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, China had a population of over 500 million. Due to a stable society, ample food, rapid development, and improving medical and health care, the population grew rapidly, reaching around 800 million in 1969.

In the early 1970s, the Chinese government realized that the over-rapid population growth was harmful to economic and social development. They feared that it would cause difficulties in the fields of employment, housing, communications and medical care. Authorities determined that China must effectively check the over-rapid population growth to alleviate the tremendous pressure that it was exerting on land, forest and water resources. They worried that the destruction of the environment in the coming decades would be disastrous, and sustainable social and economic development would be stymied.

At that time the Chinese government began implementing a family planning, population control and population quality improvement policy to promote the development of the country. The policy says that each woman may have only one child. Presently, abortion is legal in China, and pregnant women who already have one or more children face social and administrative pressures to terminate their pregnancies. Government policies allow women who belong to one of China's national minorities to have more than one child. This is due to historical trends of high mortality among minorities.

With the implementation of family planning, the birthrate steadily declined year after year. China's birth rate dropped from 34.11 per thousand in 1969 to 15.23 per thousand at the end of 1999, and the natural growth rate decreased from 26.08 per thousand to 8.77 per thousand. China’s population trend is now characterized as being low-birth, low-death and low-increase.