The one-child policy put China in a disastrous 'marriage squeeze'

On Thursday, China announced that it will be expanding it’s “one child policy” into a “two child policy,” meaning that couples can now have two kids without fear of being fined by the government.

The policy had been in effect since 1980. The idea was to curb the birth rate in the world’s most populous country.

It did so, but at a price of what demographers call a “marriage squeeze.” Between the one-child policy and China’s hunger for sons over daughters, the birthrates of boys greatly outpaced that of girls — leading to a lack of potential brides in successive generations.

Though determining the gender of fetuses was outlawed in the 1980s, it still happens at a large, though underground, scale — giving the impression that many of the 336 million abortions that have reportedly been performed since 1971 were gender-related.

According to a 2013 BBC report, there are 20 million more men in China then there are women, and more than 33% of men aged 25 to 29 in China are unmarried, while about 20% of women are unwed.

If births rates were normal, China would have 66 million more girls born in 2010, the Economist reports. By the Economist’s projections — which are based on one-child policy — by 2050 there would be an estimated 186 single men looking to marry for every 100 single women.

The so-called bachelor problem has gotten so extreme that one economist has called for polyandry — the practice of one woman marrying multiple men.

As unsavoury as it a sounds, a potential outcome of the “two child policy” is that Chinese parents will be more open to having daughters, so the next generation doesn’t hit another marriage squeeze.

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