The effects of China's One Child Policy on its children

Jan 10, 2013

New research shows China's controversial One Child Policy (OCP) has not only dramatically re-shaped the population, but has produced individuals lacking characteristics important for economic and social attainment.

In research published today in Science, Professors Lisa Cameron and Lata Gangadharan from Monash University, Professor Xin Meng from the Australian National University (ANU) and Associate Professor Nisvan Erkal from the University of Melbourne examined cohorts of born just before and after the OCP was introduced. They assessed social and competitive behavioural attributes such as trust and risk-taking.

The researchers conducted a series of economic games on more than 400 subjects. The imposition of the OCP allowed them to identify individuals who grew up as an only child because of the policy and who would have grown up with siblings in the absence of the OCP.

Comparing this group with those who were born before the OCP, they isolated the causal impact of growing up as single children. Results indicated that individuals who grew up as single children as a result of 's OCP were significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, and less conscientious individuals.

Professor Cameron, of the Monash Centre for Development Economics, said effects were observed even if single children had significant contact with social peers.

"We found that greater exposure to other children in childhood – for example, frequent interactions with cousins and/or attending childcare – was not a substitute for having siblings. There is some evidence that parents can influence their children's behavior by encouraging pro-social values," Professor Cameron said.

The researchers considered a number of possible other factors such as participants' age and whether they might have become more capitalistic over time. They found that being born before or after the introduction of the OCP best explained the results.

The research may also have economic implications.

"Our data show that people born under the One Child Policy were less likely to be in more risky occupations like self-employment. Thus there may be implications for China in terms of a decline in entrepreneurial ability," Professor Cameron said.

A radical tool of population control, the OCP was introduced in 1979 and strictly enforced in urban centres using economic incentives. In 2011 an official Chinese outlet cited the numbers of births prevented at 400 million.

Reports indicate that the Chinese government is currently considering whether to relax the OCP and these findings are relevant to those deliberations.

Explore further: When identity marketing backfires: Consumers don't like to be told what they like

More information: "Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China's One-Child Policy," by L. Cameron et al, Science, 2013.

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Gigel
1.5 / 5 (12) Jan 10, 2013
Demographic control is detrimental to progress. The Chinese would better think how to colonise the oceans, the largest uninhabited expanse, rather than killing their own children. China can become the next America, eventually conquering the cosmos for human colonisation. Demographic growth is actually a pressure to make progress, for any country. It is what drove humankind in the Industrial Revolution and into other leaps in history.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (8) Jan 10, 2013
greater exposure to other children in childhood – for example, frequent interactions with cousins and/or attending childcare – was not a substitute for having siblings
Well this is a universal problem isnt it? 'The village raises the child.' We evolved in tribes, and our fertility rates evolved to counter high tropical attrition.

Humans began eliminating these natural attritive elements, one by one, ages ago. We first became able to hunt the predators which were hunting us. We harnessed fire, domesticated plants and animals, started wearing clothes, etc.

Our tropical fertility rate however remained unchanged. As a result our numbers exploded. Unremittant intertribal warfare was the result.

And so we are left with 2 choices: either reduce the birthrate, or suffer unending war, starvation, and misery.

Either is unnatural and deleterious as the article explains. Religionists have been taught to ignore this equation because their institutions are designed to exploit it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 10, 2013
Religions have evolved to maximize this tropical growth rate, as a very effective means of outgrowing and overrunning their enemies.

The chinese culture has taken centuries to destroy. Even when the religious framework is removed, which communism is good at doing, the behaviors remain; in part because they are genetic.

We are tropical animals in a temperate environment and even though we suffer from growing up isolated and inexperienced in small family units, we suffer far more from the effects of overpopulation.

We can compensate for the effects described in the article. But we cannot compensate for the effects of overpopulation, except in the traditional manner, which involves losing a large percentage of each generation on the battlefield. This is no longer acceptable.

The human state is an unnatural state. We are a transition species. Neanderthal reproduction probably became seasonal which may be why they were overrun and extincted by their more prolific tropical relatives.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (6) Jan 10, 2013
Neanderthal social units were apparently much smaller than their tropical insurgents. Their repro rates shrank to match reduced predation and seasonal availability of food. They were no doubt accustomed to this situation. Given enough time they may have even begun to hibernate.

As humanity further integrates with its machines and the availability of resources continues to diminish, we can expect our numbers to dwindle as well.

As AI emerges and humanity fades, a single Individual should be the ultimate result. A Singularity which seeks only to communicate with its Bretheren amongst the stars, to share what They know.
bredmond
4.8 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2013
I have two things to say. Neither are intended as conclusive statements, but just additional things to mention. The first one is that 1979 was around the time that Deng Xiaoping came into power. The change in leadership following Mao would have had more changes than simply the OCP. It seems hard to isolate the OCP as the sole cause of what the authors have found. The second thing is that many children refer to their cousins as siblings and they have formed strong bonds with other children that they have no family relationship with. The university students I used to teach here in china often talk about their good friend from elementary school, high school or wherever, and how they are going to get together with them on such-and-such an afternoon. The only reason I know where any of my schoolmates are is because of facebook, and even then i don't keep in contact with them.
alfie_null
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2013
We can compensate for the effects described in the article. But we cannot compensate for the effects of overpopulation, except in the traditional manner, which involves losing a large percentage of each generation on the battlefield.

This assertion, that war retards population growth in any significant way, I question. What the heck - I disagree. Our worst conflicts have killed what percentage of the population? Of those killed, how many were child bearers (women)? Just a momentary speed bump.

You might also note that in developed regions, fertility has fallen, often below parity. Which suggests other, naturally occurring, solutions to overpopulation.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2013
Moron Gigel is a Moron.

Global population needs to be reduced to a maximum of 1/10th it's current size.

VendicarD
2.3 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2013
It occurs to me that the anti-social qualities detected by the researchers are exactly those qualities that are promoted by Capitalism.

It is no coincidence that they are seen rising as capitalist conflict is promoted in China.

"It seems hard to isolate the OCP as the sole cause of what the authors have found." - Bredmond
chardo137
1.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2013
How much do you want to bet that the people who did this study knew what the answer was even before they collected any data?
neversaidit
not rated yet Jan 11, 2013
so were western children with no siblings a control group? as i see this, it's the "no siblings" effect of OCP, so single children everywhere should show these characteristics?
krundoloss
not rated yet Jan 11, 2013
I have often wondered what the OCP policy could do to China long-term. I also think about how, since there are many more men being born than women (or female offspring being discarded, oooh), that this would lead to a society with many men, each trying to succeed in order to attract a mate (which is made much more rare by the OCP). Think about it, wouldnt this lead China to progress more rapidly, since all these men are trying to "earn" the right to reproduce, which is arguably thier strongest natural drive?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2013
This assertion, that war retards population growth in any significant way, I question. What the heck - I disagree. Our worst conflicts have killed what percentage of the population? Of those killed, how many were child bearers (women)? Just a momentary speed bump.
War has always been Inevitable. But wars in todays world are Waged with the intent of destroying obsolete cultures which enforce growth rates that are no longer sustainable.

Todays wars are Constructive not destructive. They are waged with the Intent of ending the ruinous Cycles of growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth. Destroying these cultures does indeed reduce the growth rate.

The cultures which would have prevented OCP, family planning, and the ONE BILLION abortions which have taken place since the world wars, have been destroyed. Peace is the result.
http://www.johnst...311.html

-You will note that, in addition to OCP, PR China has had 360 MILLION abortions since 1963.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2013
This assertion, that war retards population growth in any significant way, I question. What the heck - I disagree. Our worst conflicts have killed what percentage of the population? Of those killed, how many were child bearers (women)? Just a momentary speed bump.
Tribal warfare in prehistory was waged to overrun an enemys tribe, kill the males, and incorporate the females. Goodall documented this activity among apes. The mongols were extreme protagonists. This behavior continues today in places like africa.

Wars stress civilian pops as well. One good way of pacifying a contentious province is to have an enemy army roaming through it. Romes troublesome southern tribes were pacified as hannibal ranged north and south.

Alexander destroyed most of the cropland on his way to babylon. The allies bombed the N Korean reservoirs which supplied most of the irrigation water for that countrys crops and perhaps a million starved. Sherman burned his way to the sea. Many examples.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2013
A notorious peacetime act of cultural destruction;

"The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "Terror-Famine in Ukraine" and "Famine-Genocide in Ukraine"...According to the decision of Kyiv Appellation Court, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million famine deaths, and as 6.1 million birth deficit...They argue that the Soviet policies were an attack on the rise of Ukrainian nationalism and therefore fall under the legal definition of genocide..."

-Cultural destruction was the main Purpose for the imposition of 'communist' martial upon eurasian peoples. 'Communism' had little to do with marxist ideology. Stalin killed all the true ideologues as soon as he got the chance. He shipped the entire middle class off to gulag.

This is Applied Demographic Engineering every bit as effective as that of the world wars.
zslewis
not rated yet Jan 12, 2013
garbage. time will tell.
richardcruz
not rated yet Jan 14, 2013
First, to control population, limiting family size to 2, or even 3 children will do. One child policy is tantamount to genocide. Second, from a global perspective, reducing one's own population when no one else is doing it, is pure stupidity. Chinese people are a great nation, one child policy is tragedy not just to China, but to the entire humanity.
richardcruz
not rated yet Jan 14, 2013
First, to control population, limiting family size to 2, or even 3 children will do. One child policy is tantamount to genocide. Second, from a global perspective, reducing one's own population when no one else is doing it, is pure stupidity. Chinese people are a great nation, one child policy is a tragedy not just to China, but to the entire humanity.

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