The Effect of China’s One Child Policy


China's One-Child Policy is having major effects on China's economy

Sofia Borges, Journalist

For 35 years, China has had a policy where each family was limited to one child to prevent over population, now it’s having a big effect on the population. Most of the people in China are males, because there’s about 39 million less females than males in China, women and girls from surrounding countries are being kidnapped, trafficked, and sold to Chinese men as wives. 


The reason why there are so many more boys than girls in China is because in their Confucian culture, it’s the duty of a son to help take can of his parents as they ageSince China’s one child policy only allows one child per family, many parents used ultrasound scanners to find out if the baby was a boy or girl and used gender-based abortions and other methods to make sure the baby will be a boy. That lead to there being 121 boys born for every 100 girls born in 2004. 


The gender imbalance has gotten so bad, that most men can’t find a wife. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer who works at the American Enterprise Institute, told Upfront Magazine, “We’re on a path which is going to presumably lead to an awful lot of elderly bachelors with no children or families in a generation or so.” This is bad because in China, elders depend on their children to help take care of them. Another problem is that China’s economic development is slowing down because of the one child policy and gender imbalance. Since there’s not many women in China, there’s going to be less people in the next generation. This is being called the Bachelor Crisis. 


One of the many young women sold as wives to rich, Chinese men was a 16-year-old who goes by Phyu. Phyu lived in a ramshackle village in Myanmar, a country close to China, when she was offered a job as a waitress in China. She accepted and, after 10 days of traveling, realized she was being trafficked. She couldn’t escape and started to cry. Her traffickers told her stop because she had to look pretty for her new husband. She was sold as a bride to a Chinese man called Yuan Feng. He tried to talk to her by using his phone to translate but she refused to talk. Yuan locked Phyu in a room with a TV. Phyu pretended to be happy after a while and was let out of the room. She learned the password to Yuan’s phone and used a social media app on his phone to call her mother when he was drunk one night. After 2 months the police arrested Yuan and Phyu was able to go home. Phyu was lucky, most women never escape after being sold as a wife. 


Demographers are learning that all social experiments have unexpected and unintended consequencesWith a social experiment of this size, it will have consequences of the same size. China’s response to the Bachelor Crisis was to allow families to have up to two children and no more in 2016, but it’s too late. Many families say they don’t want or can’t afford another child. Fuxian Yi, a professor at the University of Wisconsin says that it will take at least 20 years for the sex ratio at birth in China to go back to normal and the Bachelor Crisis won’t be fixed for at least 50 years. 






Smith, Patricia. “China’s Missing Women.” The New York Times Upfront, 6 Jan. 2020,