The Population Game

‘As Fong makes clear, the one-child policy was not just a crime. It was a blunder. Fertility would have fallen anyway, as happened in other Asian countries, albeit not quite so far and fast. But the policy further distorted sex ratios, resulting in more boys than girls. And it changed expectations: Most people now want only one child. That is why the policy may prove to be hard to reverse.’


One Child by Mei Fong is a fascinating new read released this month which explores the consequences – forseen and unseen – of China’s recently reversed one child policy.


With unprecedented scope and access, former WSJ correspondent Fong shines a light on the personal and social implications of this sometimes-brutally enforced policy, providing an invaluable insight into often-obscured political realities, the psyche of China’s new generation, and – with males of marrying age estimated to outstrip females by 30 million in 2020 – the emerging problems we face in a male-skewed world.


The world’s demographers argue that China’s emerging demographic ‘increases… societal instability characterized by a rise in violent crime, the numbers of secret societies and gangs, the levels of muscular nationalism, and prostitution and trafficking in women and children’.


This is also a growing reality in the world’s second most populous country. A study by The Lancet into Indian female foeticide estimated that between 1980 and 2010, four to 12 million girls were aborted because of their sex; a 2006 Unicef report found that 7,000 fewer girls are born every day than the global average would suggest, due to selective abortion and infanticide.


  • Watch Robert Muggah speak at TED on how to protect the world’s fragile megacities from violence and instability 

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