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  • Dániel Csuja

The Importance of China’s Three-Child Policy

China's One-Child Policy was an infamous part of the Chinese Communist Party's attempt to control society. As societal and biological trends worsened for Chinese society more broadly, the Party was forced to backtrack and implement a new three-child policy.

The new model of the Chinese family. (Photo: CNBC)

Due to the one-child policy of China, several gender problems have emerged in the country. A critical imbalance in sex ratio and the often hopeless search for a wife were just some of the main issues why the Chinese Communist Party was urged to change its child-policy.

Since women live longer than men on average, most countries populations have more females than males. This was not true in China however, where some parents have opted for sex-selective abortions which resulted in a significant asymmetry: China has 105 males for every 100 females, according to the latest census.

In mathematical terms, about one in nine young men in China is unable to marry. This problem is even more serious if you consider that paying for a wife is still a tradition in some regions of China. In the 1980s a wife cost around 800 yuan (approx. 120$), but thanks to the growing demand for a bride the price of a woman is between 100-200 thousand yuan (approx.15000-30000$) on average. This enormous growth of price determines who can afford a marriage which puts an extra strain on people in the lower echelons of income distribution.

Besides marriage issues, China’s excess of male births impacted the economy as well. According to Shang-Jin Wei, Professor of Chinese Economic Studies at Columbia University, parents with just one son increased their saving rates extensively in order to enhance their chances in the marriage market. Another reason for the outstanding savings is that parents with an only son are willing to invest more in their child’s education.

Knowing the fact that financial status can improve one’s relative competitiveness to find a partner, unmarried young men and their parents tend to take more risk in the labour market. They are more likely to seek financially beneficial, but risky jobs in sectors such as mining and construction, or jobs exposing them to hazardous materials and extreme heat or cold. Since people are more willing to accept such conditions, employers often care less about workplace safety, leading to many preventable

work-related injuries and deaths. We are now quite aware of the male outlook but one can raise the question how did this critical imbalance affect young women’s life? Although tens of millions of men are in an intensive search for a wife, marriage and the old-fashioned female role that comes with it, is not present in most of China’s young women’s mind. Metropolitan, more educated women depart from the traditional wife-model since they’d rather prefer freedom where they can maintain their independence and identity. At least, these perceptions and requirements are spreading among young women in China.

As we can see, the shift in sex-ratio has already led to several inequalities in the youth society of China. Men are struggling to find a bride, as one in nine cases have mathematically zero chance of finding a bride.

Due to the global changes in the female-male relationships and to technological progress, women sympathize less and less with the traditional family-model. China’s recently introduced three-child policy is a significant step forward to stabilise its sex-ratio, but the balance should be found not only in numbers but in a family and social system in accordance with the characteristics of our modern age.

Without supporting the birth of girls, raising women’s esteem and emancipation generally, strengthening women’s participation in the workforce both in politics and corporate life, China, according to Professor Shang Jin Wei, will lose all the benefits it has gained not only in economics, technology but also in quality of life and social justice.

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