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What is China's one-child policy?


Family Planning in China
Children hold hands as they walk through the ancient city of Pingyao.
Children hold hands as they walk through the ancient city of Pingyao.
Frederick J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Under China's family planning laws, everyone is responsible for practicing family planning and contraceptive methods. Those who follow policy are offered rewards, such as a "Certificate of Honor for Single-Child Parents," loans, social assistance and other assistance depending on their socio-economic status. Couples who delay marriage and children may be eligible for rewards as well, such as longer honeymoon and maternity leaves of absence.

Those who don't comply with the one-child policy are subject to penalties including fines (ranging from one-half the local average annual household income to up to 10 times that level or more), confiscation of belongings and administrative sanctions for government employees. In 2013, for example, Chinese movie director Zhang Yimou was sued for millions after admitting that he and his wife have three children. "Excess" children may be subjected to educational and health care penalties.

To ensure strict policy compliance, the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) offers free, universally accessible contraceptive methods. As a result, the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) among married women is as high as 89 percent in China, compared to 55 percent CPR for married women in other developing countries [sources: Li, World Economic Forum]. The most common family planning methods? Nope, not condoms and birth control pills; in China, IUDs and female sterilization are the most-used methods. Fewer than 10 percent of the population relies on vasectomy, condoms and oral contraception [source: National Population and Family Planning Commission of China].


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