Two Little, Too Late

China's One Child Policy and Population Collapse

One-year-old Qiqi holds a ballon on a street outside Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in central Beijing, November 8, 2013. Reuters

Experts have warned for years that China will get old before it gets rich, yet the Chinese government has persisted in enforcing extreme forms of population control that seriously violate international human rights norms. The result has been a confluence of perverse demographic outcomes, including widespread sex-selective abortion.

No one knows why China retained the one-child policy long after it became clear that the nation’s birth rate was closer to being dangerously low than dangerously high. Perhaps it was the natural knee-jerk conservatism of a bureaucratic, authoritarian state; old habits die hard. When China did finally relax its one-child policy in 2013, official media confidently predicted that the state could “maneuver” its fertility rate to its desired level of 1.8 children per woman. The anticipated baby boom did not materialize. Even now that China has announced a two-child policy, Beijing has not abandoned its fertility control efforts: each family will still

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