Birth Control in China 1949-2000: Population Policy and Demographic Development

By Weiguo, Zhang | The China Journal, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Birth Control in China 1949-2000: Population Policy and Demographic Development


Weiguo, Zhang, The China Journal


Birth Control in China 1949-2000: Population Policy and Demographic Development, by Thomas Scharping. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. xvi + 406 pp. £70.00 (hardcover).

The two main focuses of Birth Control in China 1949-2000 are, first, to reveal how this has been shaped by social, political and economic transformations; and second, to analyze how the demographics of China have changed due to birth control policies. The book is an expansion of an earlier German version published in 1995, with additional information on the state's birth control programs and updated demographic materials, including the 2000 population census, and with an expanded scope which includes an assessment of policy impact and projection of future population trends.

The organization of the book follows the logic of linking state population policies to national demographic consequences. After a brief introduction in Part I, Thomas Scharping provides, in Parts II and III, detailed accounts of policy formulation and shifts in population policies at the central level from 1949 up to 1999 and bureaucratic implementation of such policies, with a focus on the "later-sparser-fewer" policy of the 1970s and the later so-called "one-child" policy of the 1980s and the 1990s. In Part V the author discusses the demographic consequences for various aspects of marriage, fertility, age and sex structure, with statistics from multiple sources. The quantitative data includes the 1982 and 1990 national population censuses and the 1995 micro census; the 1982, 1988 and 1992 national fertility sampling surveys, and various statistical yearbooks including specialized yearbooks on issues such as population, birth planning and health, though it omits the 1997 national demographic and reproductive health survey.

The intermediate chapters in Part IV focus on individual and family responses to state population policies, being intended to show the link between ; the state's population policy and demographic development. But this part is thin, taking up merely 25 pages in a book of more than 400 pages. Scharping gives only a brief account of family sizes and parents' preferences regarding infants' gender and the various strategies adopted at the individual and family level to circumvent government policies. …

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