“… the single greatest social-policy error in human history.”
Desperate for economic reforms so China could catch up to the West (and with Hong Kong, Taiwan, SK, and Japan), Chinese government officials since the 1960s have implemented disastrously destructive economic policies.
Last fall China partially reformed one of these policies. Nicholas Eberstadt in the Wall Street Journal (October 29, 2015), calls China’s population control policy: “The one-child mandate is the single greatest social-policy error in human history.”
The Chinese government’s draconian one-child policy followed soon after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and was a response to the incredible poverty across China following decades of communist economic planning. (Communism was an earlier disastrous economic policy imported from the West.)
Through the 1970s many economists and environmentalists called for population control policies for the U.S. and Europe. The view at the time, as the environmental movement was ramping up, was that population growth was threatening everyone and the world was hitting a wall on food production, plus running out of natural resources like oil and copper. Further, environmentalists believed expanding industry was increasingly polluting the environment and modern agriculture had reached a tipping point from topsoil loss overuse of fertilizers and pesticides.
All these fears turned out to be way, way wrong. But before that news reached Chinese government planners, the one-child policy was mandated across China.
China’s one-child policy is the middle of the story of terribly wrong ideas from the west causing the deaths of tens of millions across China, and blocking the birth of hundreds of millions of Chinese children. The one-child policy created an utterly new social system for China, notes Eberstadt:
And China’s cities are now producing a new family type utterly unfamiliar to Chinese history: only children begotten by only children. They have no siblings, cousins, uncles or aunts, only ancestors (and perhaps, one day, descendants).
China’s population problems aren’t yet fixed. It’s new two-child mandate still has government officials claiming to tell families how they can form by limited those without wealth or political connections to just two children.