China has been the world’s most populous country for centuries and today makes up one-fifth of the world’s population. The country’s population of 1.3 billion in the early 2000s is projected to grow by another 100 million by 2050. India—with its higher fertility levels – is forecast to move ahead of China in total population size by 2035. China covers about the same geographic area as the United States, although its population is nearly five times greater. In addition, because of rugged mountains in the west and vast desert areas in
central China, the population is concentrated within a surprisingly small area along the East and South.
Birth rate trends and management
Fertility rates have been slashed in China in one of the most ambitious state attempts to control population growth. The government feared a looming crisis in the 1960s where
every 3 years another 55million people where added top the population. The government feared a Malthusian crisis where population growth would completely outstrip resource availabillity. They launched into China’s now famous one child policy in 1979, after Chinese demographer Liu Zeng calculated China’s OPTIMUM population at 700million. The government set the limit at one child per family– a total fertility rate of 1! The state offered inducements for having only one child such as;
They also had a rigorous range of punishments if the one child rule was flouted (which it clearly was, look at the fertility graph, it never reaches 1!) including;
Losing all of the benefits listed above
Fines of up to 15% of the families income
In addition, couples could only marry at 22 for a man and 20 for a woman, and had to apply to the state for permission to first marry and then have a child. This reduces the reproductive “lifespan” of that couple.
The policy courted lots of controversy, and China’s imbalance in male to female ratio is evident in the figures about China’s population. It was claimed in the South China post that once couples knew the sex of a baby some would abort if it was a girl. This is known as female infanticide. This is because the Chinese value males in their society more than females because they carry the family name.
It has been documented that some women were forced into having abortions if they conceived a second child, and persistent offenders were offered sterilisation. The local factories and communities also had the granny police – who monitored and spied on prospective mothers. This policy was not enforced in the same manner across China, and in some areas it was possible to have more than one child, particularly in rural areas where children were needed to work on farmers.
This policy has had huge social ramifications for China – yes it has reduced the population growth, but there have been many secondary problems emanate from the policy. One, it has led to the phenomenon of “Little Emporers”, spoilt single children who get everything they want! It has also destroyed some family way of life, no brothers or
sisters, no Aunts and Uncles. It also has future ramifications for China’s dependency ratio – one single child to look after 2 elderly grandparents! This means that many Chinese simply don’t work in the formal economy but work to look after their ageing parents. This means that they are not contributing to the economy and in the past China has relaxed the one child rule. In certain cities today it has been completely abandoned as cities search for economic growth and a workforce that can supply it in the future. The last impact has been to create an army of bachelors, competing for the lower number of females available.
Death rate trends, life expectancy and management
Life Expectancy has increased considerably in China, especially since the cultural revolution of China and the creation of the Peoples Republic of China.
Historical change: China’s mortality has declined dramatically over the past 50 years, especially in the early years of the People’s Republic. The official death rate in 1953 was 14 deaths per 1,000 people, but it was probably much higher because mortality was chronically underestimated. The official death rate had dropped below 8 by 1970 and below 7 by 2000. China’s mortality fell in part thanks to land and other resources to help ensure access by even the poorest citizens. The new government also began to develop massive public health programs. Early programs focused on relatively inexpensive goals and campaigns—such as local environmental clean-up programs and training programs for local health personnel—that contributed to lower mortality. China’s mortality decline was interrupted at several points by temporary but often severe disruptions tied to political, economic, or social changes.
The most notable was the Great Leap Forward: In 1958, the Chinese government launched the Great Leap Forward, a massive effort to rapidly increase agricultural and industrial production. The program was a colossal failure and, ironically, caused one of the largest famines in human history. The Chinese government kept the details of the era secret for many years, releasing some data only in the 1980s. Demographers and others who pieced together the available information have estimated that more than 30 million people died between 1958 and 1961 as a result of the Great Leap Forward. Infants were especially vulnerable. Infant mortality rates spiked in 1958 and again in 1961. Adult mortality surged in 1960. As the country recovered, mortality levels declined and life expectancy at birth increased—from 35 years in 1949 to 72 years in 2001.
China’s entry into the Free Trade system and market reform has further increased access to medical care and has built on state systems such as “barefoot doctors” who
helped in rural districts, and immunisation against polio and measles. The current problem is that there is a gap between services available in rural and urban areas.
Recent change: The average life expectancy of Chinese increased to 73 in 2005, 1.6 years more than in 2000, according to the Chinese Ministry of Health. Life expectancy was only 36.5 years in 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded.
The infant death rate decreased to 1.53% last year, down from 2.55% in 2003.
The reasons for this are multiple, but much can be attributed to;
Massive investment in Health Care provision
– the number of health organizations jumped to 315,000 while the government
spent 1.05 trillion Yuan (US$144.27 billion), or 4.82% of China’s gross
domestic product, on health care.
in stemming the potential AIDS epidemic – about
1.8 billion Yuan of the central government’s budget was devoted to AIDS
treatment in 2007 as the number of people estimated to be living with HIV on
the mainland may have risen to 700,000 in the same
30 million people were estimated to have
joined the country’s medical insurance network by the end of 2007 after a
basic medical insurance trial program was launched in
In addition, the rural cooperative medical insurance system, initiated in 2003
to offer farmers basic health care, covered 730 million rural residents, or
86% of the rural population, by the end of September
Migration controls and schemes