Teaching Students About the One Child Policy

The One Child Policy, a remarkable and controversial population control measure in China, presents an excellent learning opportunity for students. It’s essential to teach them the facts about this policy, which has significantly impacted millions of families and the demographic structure of the world’s most populous nation. This article aims to outline the key points educators can use when discussing the One Child Policy with their students.


Implemented in 1979 by the Chinese government, the One Child Policy aimed to curb population growth and alleviate social, economic, and environmental issues that came with rapid expansion. It was strictly enforced through fines and other penalties for families who chose to have more than one child.

Key Facts:

The policy’s primary goal was to maintain a stable population below 1.2 billion by controlling birth rates in urban areas.

Following its introduction, the annual population growth dropped from 2.63% in 1970 to 0.57% by 2010.

Although called the “One Child Policy,” it was not universally applied; exceptions allowed various ethnic minorities and rural families to have two children if their firstborn was female.

Couples in which both parents were only children were also permitted to have two children.

The policy was not without consequences; it led to a significant gender imbalance as families preferred male children for cultural and economic reasons, resulting in skewed sex ratios at birth.

The long-term effects of the policy include an aging population and a shrinking workforce that has impacted China’s economic growth.

Changes and Present Situation:

Recognizing these negative consequences, the Chinese government began relaxing the policy starting in 2013. In October 2015, they introduced a “Two Child Policy,” which allowed couples to have a second child without penalty.

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