Inside Story

Ending China’s one-child policy: Too little too late?

Beijing abandons its controversial policy after concerns about ageing population

When Chinese leaders first introduced the one-child policy in 1979, the population of China was rapidly approaching one billion.

Now China is facing a different crisis: a rapidly ageing population, increasing pressure on state pensions and potential labour shortages.

After gradually easing the policy in the last few years, the government in Beijing has decided to abandon it completely. Couples will be allowed to have two children.

What is often described as the largest population control experiment in history will have long-lasting effects on Chinese society.

The policy is estimated to have prevented the births of some 400 million children. China also has one of the worst gender imbalances in the world because parents have had a preference for boys.

Was the policy necessary? And how will it affect future generations in the world’s most populous nation?

And beyond China, what other countries are facing population crises of their own?

Presenter: Jane Dutton


Andreas Fulda – Lecturer at the School of Contemporary Chinese studies, University of Nottingham.

Hans Rosling  Professor of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute.

Simon Ross  Chief Executive of Population Matters.