May 8, 2007
Many urban Chinese kids are discovering for the first time the meaning of sibling rivalry--and the government is taking notice. Since the late 70s, China's family planning policy has dictated a one-child policy for city-dwellers (two children for rural citizens), with fines for those who do not comply. The BBC reports, however, that due to China's rising wealth, many couples are opting to pay the fines and proceed with more children:
[China] is keen to curb its population growth, and the controversial family planning policy, implemented in the late 1970s, is meant to limit urban couples to one child and rural families to two.
But rising incomes mean that some newly rich couples in urban areas can easily afford to break the rules and pay the resulting fines.
In fact, last month, a survey by the National Population and Family Planning Commission found that the number of rich people and celebrities having more than one child was on a rapid increase, and nearly 10% of people in this category had three children.
The story also brings to light a fact of which I was previously unaware: the Chinese government prohibits early marriages. In the United States, the oldest marriageable date without parental permission is 19 (Nebraska). In China, men are permitted to marry at 22, and women can tie the knot at 20.
Granted, that's well below the average age of marriage in most in developed countries, but it's also a much higher legal age than any other developed nation. This late marriage policy is also becoming increasingly ignored:
But according to [a spokesman for the PRC's National Population and Family Planning Commission], "early marriages are still prevailing in some parts of the country, especially in rural areas, which goes against the family planning policy".
Part of the reason why rural families refuse to comply is because of the traditional preference for sons.
Experts say this preference has led to the under-reporting of female births, as well as abortion of female foetuses and female infanticide.
As we have written here before, when mixed with a cultural preference for sons, a maximum child policy can be lethal. Now that the Chinese government has seen that its systems of fines is failing as the economy grows, it will face some tough decisions. While we don't know whether or not the government will stiffen or loosen its penalties, it is good to see that some families see that no matter what the fine, the value of life and marriage is priceless.