Population Control Essay, Research Paper
The world s population is growing at a rate of 1.33% a year and is predicted to reach 8.9 billion people by the year 2050. China, which holds 1.3 billion of the world s total population, is predicted to grow to 1.6 billion people by the year 2030. This rapid growth has occurred because the death rate has dropped sharply. The birthrate has also fallen, but the total population is enormous, and there are many young people. (Population Crisis, 1998). Due to China holding twenty percent of the worlds population it is no surprise that the Chinese government has implemented many harsh policies on population control. Whether the government is taking the right actions to solve the problem is all a matter of opinion.
History of The China s Population
This population pyramid from the 1990 census gives us a good overview of China s population over the years, which focus on age and gender (Figure 1). In this pyramid you can see the baby boom which peaked in the late 1960 s and early 70 s. Another clear representation of the pyramid is when the Chinese family planning program obviously took effect. The amount of births rapidly declined. Children that were between 4 and 11 in 1990, belonged to the smallest birth cohorts after the baby boom. They were born between 1978 and 1985. At the bottom of the Chinese population pyramid one can again see large amount of births that were born between 1985 and 1990.
They are almost as large as the “baby boom” years. However, this large number of births is just the “echo effect” of the baby boom between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s.
Problems of Overpopulation
The most major problem China faces due to overpopulation is the lack of land. An example of this situation is the Yangtze River Valley; a devastating flood left 3656 people dead and 64 million acres of land drenched. The expanding population forced housing projects desperate for land to deforest the areas like the Sichuan province in the Yangtze River Valley because the people have nowhere else to go but the mountains and deserts for living space, thus encouraging the erosion which magnified the effects of the flood. (Population Crisis, 1998)
Another major problem the Chinese people face is the lack of water. China not only needs this water to drink but they also need it for their crops, which pretty much carry the country economically. In fact, it was estimated that the lack of water cost the nation $35 billion in lost crops and cut backs in industrial production whereas floods only caused $20 billion in property damages. (Population Crisis, 1998)
Pollution is also another problem China must deal with. The amount of pollutants in the air are reported to be 4 to 9 times higher than the levels recommended by the World Health Organization guidelines (Population Crisis, 1998). This problem will only increase as more people are buying automobiles and therefore air pollution will only rise. With these serious reasons it is why China has gone to such drastic measures of population control.
What China Has Done
The huge population growth over the past few decades has been a cause for concern globally. However, few countries have responded in the way China has. Before 1979 the Chinese government issued a call for family planning and advocated the use of contraceptives. However, the lack of understanding for the serious problem of overpopulation pushed the government to use a more direct and demanding solution. Initiated in 1979 the Chinese government has implemented a method know as the one child policy family planning to control the fluctuation of the population
This family planning is taken very serious by the government and had many policies that had to be followed or drastic measures would be taken. First off, adults had to be married and could only have one child. Secondly, all pregnancies had to be authorized by the government and if they were not the pregnancies would be terminated by abortion. Use of forceps to crush the baby’s skull or injecting pure formaldehyde into the soft cap of baby’s head during or upon birth are means for “aborting” fully developed babies. Drowning or Smothering occurs in rural areas (One-Child Population, 1995). Also, couples who have had 2 or more children already had to be sterilized. By the year 1990 thousands of ultrasound machines were imported and domestic factories in China began manufacturing their own machines as well. This was because the government wanted more males born than females. In accordance with Chinese tradition, daughters join the families of their husbands upon marriage and are seldom able to offer support or care for their parents in old age (One-Child Population, 1995). Even though the use of ultrasounds was banned for the use of sex selection later on, the ban was not ever abided. Between 500,000 and 750,000 unborn girls are aborted in China every year as a result of couples having access to the ultrasound scanner that reveals the sex of a fetus (Ultrasound, 1999). The use of ultrasound has had a major impact on the population gender to come. Reports of sex ratios at birth for some areas has been 300 males to 100 females. A 1991 article in a Shanghai journal warned that if the sex ratios continued to rise, by the end of the century China would have an army of bachelors numbering some 70 million strong (One-Child Population, 1995).
With so many strict policies the government had some extreme consequences for those who wish not to abide by the family planning act . Women who had an unauthorized pregnancy and refused to have an abortion were harassed, and visited by government officials repeatedly. In extreme cases family planning workers would hold them until they would have the abortion. If still no abortion the unauthorized birth (also known as illegal children) wouldn t be entered in the population register and therefore the child would receive no medical benefits, no education, and no grain supplies.
One of the newer weapons the Chinese government has brought into effect has be the introduction of the abortion vans. 600 white vans equipped with beds, body clamps and suction pumps will now scour the countryside to find offenders of the one-child policy (China s War, 1997). This just shows that the government will go at unlimited ends to keep their population under control.
Degree of Success
Although I do not agree with the Chinese government, as there are many horror stories about the one-child policy, the government is doing all it can for its country to survive. The policy is a desperate attempt to lower the immense population. Food production cannot keep up with the growth in population. China must feed 22% of the world’s population(1.2 billion people), on just 7% of it arable land. Compare with America, which feeds a population just one-fifth the size of China’s but has almost double the area of arable land. (China s one-Child Policy). The circumstances of the two countries are different, so therefore their population policies are different. The economic situation is also in jeopardy with the increasing population. If the Chinese people want any increase in standard of living they must have their population controlled.
On the other hand, why I do not agree with the one child policy is due to they re being no freedom involved and the drastic and brutal measures they take on their own people when really their policy is not drastically changing anything. The only thing that s is going to change the Chinese population anytime soon is going to have to deal with some sort of demographic change. Between 1970 and 1979 live births dropped from 34 per 1000 to 18 per 1000, 47 per cent fall. Yet the one-child policy was not implemented until 1979! Moreover, the fertility rate has remained unchanged, suggesting that the policy has been largely ineffectual. All of this strongly suggests that China has entered the stage, or is rapidly approach it, of the demographic transition (The Failure, 1998).
Reasons for Failure
Since the one child policy wasn t adopted until 1979, you have to look at years previous to the policy and years after the policy went through. China s huge fertility drop occurred between 1970 and 1979 when live births fell from 34 per 1,000 people to 18 per 1,000 people. Since the introduction of the one-child policy in 1979, there has been no large drop in fertility and in fact China experienced a slight increase fluctuating around 21 births per 1,000 people in the 1980s (Carnell, 1999). Figure 2 shows how the demographic effect plays a major role in the future population. The number of young adults of reproductive age (20 – 50) will reach its maximum of more than 660 million around 2010. This explains why the period between 1995 and 2025 (shaded light grey) is the most critical for the country’s future population growth
So why the failure? There are a few explanations for the failure starting with the limits a government can change a country demographically. Policies emphasizing later marriage and fewer children in the 1970s clearly played a part in lowering total fertility rates. Contraceptive usage in China by the early 1980s, for example, was extraordinarily high for Asia at 71 percent of women of reproductive age (Carnell, 1999). Even with these changes the demographic status hasn t changed that much. Secondly, when you have many people in the country not abiding by the policies even though the government has strict punishments. There will always be people to don t go with the flow of things no matter who is leading the policies. Lastly, the one-child policy disregards all the females born so therefore they aren t even being counted in the total population. the one-child policy and the successful resistance to it should give pause to claims made in Western nations that there are up to 500,000 “missing” girls in China (Carnell, 1999).
While it is obvious that the human population needs to be controlled, I believe that we must not implement a “one child” policy or any other kind of government-sponsored population control. The reason for this is simple; it is not the business of any government to tell you how many children you must have, or even if you have children at all. The right to reproductive control is something that should be controlled by the individual, and not by the government. Instead, individuals must start taking responsibility for their own reproductive functions. Our planet is dying and unless we all do something fast, we will end up killing the planet and ourselves. The only difference is the planet will regenerate itself and continue living, we won’t. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every human being to limit their family size so that they have an opportunity to enjoy life on our beautiful planet.
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