LONDON—China's one child per family policy has cut the country's birth rate and means men clearly outnumber women in the population, a study showed on Friday.
Using data from nearly 40,000 women, it found the birth rate had dropped from 2.9 before the policy was introduced in 1979 as a short-term measure to 1.94 in women over 35 and 1.73 in women under 35—below replacement level.
The study by Qu Jian Ding of the Institute of Population Studies at Zhejiang University and Therese Hesketh of London's Institute of Child Health was published in the British Medical Journal.
The policy also means that the male to female ratio has risen from 1.11 in 1980-89 to 1.23 in 1996-2001.
Experts say Chinese parents have resorted to sex-selective abortion to ensure their child was a boy since the one-child policy was introduced.
“These findings have clear implications for decisions about future population policy,” concluded the authors.
“A relaxation of the policy could be considered in the near future. It is unlikely that a baby boom would result, and such a change in policy might help to correct the abnormal sex ratio.”
Thirty five percent of the women questioned said they wanted only one child and 57 percent said they would stop at two. Less than six percent said they wanted more.
Writing in the same issue, Malcolm Potts of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, praised the policy for lifting 150 million Chinese out of abject poverty by creating the conditions for increased economic growth.
He said that while the policy had caused grief for one generation of Chinese it had brought far greater comfort for following generations.
“For China, and the world as a whole, the one child policy was one of the most important social policies ever implemented,” he wrote, saying other countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria with high population growth had lessons to learn.