China’s one child policy, a generation on

Those interested in issues pertaining to population control and family planning might like to listen to this Australian Radio National podcast, which charts the history of the one child policy in China: it’s making, and its effects. Imagine a generation of adults who have grown up with no aunts and uncles, no cousins, and who are the sole grandchild of doting grandparents. What kind of society does this furnish?

A question the program does not ask, however, is what alternative kinship ties (if any) develop within such a society?

Besides the well known sex selection that has occurred as a result of the one child policy — China now has a generation of lonely (heterosexual) men — it seems to me at least ironic that a policy which sole regard was for the benefit of the state has given rise to a generation who only knows how to think about ‘numero uno’. Now that’s policy making on the fly. Or as Foucault once provocatively said, today’s solutions become tomorrow’s problems.

3 thoughts on “China’s one child policy, a generation on

  1. I’ve never thought about the effects of the one child policy on a generation of families like this before. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Interesting question.
    From the perspective of a 21 century, middle class bloguer the answer is: no effects.
    Regardless of the amount of uncles/aunts/cousins no ne has time nowdays to see them, talk to them, share the little things in life. Everyone is out of breath just trying to survive economically.
    Staying in touch costs money: in gas, on trips, on phone bills. Who has that extra money?
    So one ends up knowing that family is out there but rarely sees them.

    Another scenario: siblings as they grow. One of them might grow up to be one rotten apple and when parents die, they rarely see each other. So again, that person for practical reasons is an only child.

    Octavio Paz said we are born alone and we die alone. In the middle we make do with what we have: co-workers, school day friends, etc.

    Nice blog. Thought provoking. Will wander here every once in a while.

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