Chinese Women and One Child Policy

Chinese Women and One Child Policy


            It is relevant to understand what social impact have has structures on the society. This proposal explores reasons and ways of researching into the impact of policies on social setting. It presents ways of understanding whether the one-child policy in China has played a role in the status of urban Chinese women in the 21st century.  


Majority of members in Chinese society believe in confuciusm. As a result, they highly uphold patriarchal, patrilocal, and patrilineal kinship, hence the preference for males over females. Prior to the one-child policy implemented in1979 by the Chinese government, a couple would get on average 5-8 children in China (Fong 2002). The norms and influences of societal beliefs and systems favored sons, hence the disadvantaged position girls/females. Furthermore, after implementing the policy, critics have pointed to particular actions that have been identified as outcomes of the policy. One of the most common issues, which relates to the preference of having male children over female, is the increase of abortions in order to do away with fetuses of female gender (Deutsch 2006). Nevertheless, there are positive outcomes of the policy. It has been alleged that the current empowerment of urban women is the result of this rule. This paper makes a proposal of identifying whether the improved status of urban Chinese women in the 21st century has been caused by the one-child policy.

Literature Review

Women have significantly climbed the social ladder when compared to their status in the past. Although they have not reached the level they ought to as far as social progress is concerned, they have made several strides. Fong (2002) indicates that women in China have become more active and career-wise, hence competing against their male counterparts. Additionally, they are now in a position to support themselves and their families at old age through retirement’s benefits and investments, hence acting as role models for younger women in the society. 

It is, therefore, a concern from some parties, such as sociologists and analysts, over the cause of this significant change. While some researchers attribute these changes to pressure and influences of the international community, others imply that the changes have come from within the Chinese boundaries and society (Quach & Anderson 2008). Campaigns relating to equality, the rights of women, democracy, and other forms of social development attributes have bombarded nations across the globe. Although these attributed to the improvement of women’s position in the society in the last three or four decades, other aspects are also recognized.

Mamdani and Mamdani (2006) point out that the development of policies that has favored women contributed to women’s empowerment. However, it is not clear whether other policies have also caused this social change. One of the policy’s that has been under scrutiny is the one-child policy in China enacted in 1979. Although it was initially meant to achieve a different objective, it is alleged that it has contributed to the positive change of women status in the society over the last three and a half decades. This is where the research plays a role in approving or disapproving this notion.

The one-child policy came as an outcome of the increasing population of China in the late 20th century. The demographics were growing faster than the ability of the government to support it. This policy was, therefore, an attempt to control the growth of the population (Mamdani & Mamdani 2006). There were positive and negative approaches used by the authorities. They ensured that maximum positive outcomes of the policy were achieved. For example, parents with one child were given incentives by the government to support their child. However, women were forced to undergo sterilization or abortions in order to minimize number of children (Rosenberg & Jing 1996). That is why majority of couples preferred having an abortion if a fetus was female in order to increase their chances of getting a son.

In the Chinese society, like in other societies, males are seen as more equal than females, even nowadays. In the past, they were seen as incapable of making rational decisions, let alone, fending for themselves. Although the birth of a girl to a couple was accepted with joy and gladness, the birth of a boy was more desired. It was perceived (and is still perceived) that a male child will continue a lineage of the family (Deutsch 2006). A girl, on the other hand, would grow up into a woman, get married, and assimilate into another family. 

Despite such outcomes, it has been alleged that the one-child policy played a significant role in empowering the urban women of 21st century. The resources that are at disposal for one child (Fowler et al, 2010) indicate that parents can now educate their children and provide the best care, as they do not have to divide their resources over a number of children available in the family. Additionally, girls do not have to compete with boys. In the past, siblings had to compete for parents’ resources. It was harder for girls because boys used to be given priority as far as resource allocation was concerned. This proposal attempts to identify whether the policy has any role to play in empowering urban Chinese women.

Having the largest population in the world, China is bound to encounter more socially related challenges than other relatively smaller nations. Gender equality, distribution of resources, and management of demographically related issues, amongst others, are all important while making sure that social balance is attained (Cirando 1995). China's  rich culture has a tendency to interfere with the overall social well-being. Understanding various issues affecting the welfare of the society is relevant to this research. It will allow interested parties to understand the structures that make a positive impact. It will also facilitate understanding of ways of producing improvements in order to make more social changes.

Additionally, China has gained popularity over the last four decades due to the tremendous economic growth that it has experienced. Although it has also captured the world’s attention due to some negative news, such as the greenhouse gas emissions it releases annually, it has proved  its willingness to accept changes (Cirando 1995). China has also been criticized for its political environment and governance, hence attracting a love-hate relationship with other nations (Fong 2002). This research will assist in indicating that some of the policies that have been conveyed by the government have made a great positive impact, even though they may not adhere to global norm of making policies.

As indicated earlier, the international influence on the Chinese government is quite strong. The government continues to consider ways of offloading the burden of the one-child policy on Chinese citizens (Fong 2002). Mainly due to some concerns relating to the consequences of discrimination linked to the policy, as abortions of female fetuses exceed male ones. It is relevant to consider problems affecting children. It is relevant to underline that the policy may not have brought such negative repercussions as other issues. Concerning women’s affairs are concerned, the policy brought sociological progress even though it caused some harm.  

Conceptual Framework

            The issue in question relates to the matters that affected women in China from a sociological point of view. The aim is to identify whether the current sociological setting has been influenced by particular structures such as policies set by the government. In order to be specific, the organization assesses whether current urban Chinese women are an outcome of the one-child policy. Although the focus is on Chinese women, the policy will be the foundation of the framework. In such a way the researcher will be able to evaluate policy’s impact on Chinese urban women in the 21stcentury. This will be assessed from psychological, financial, and cultural perspectives. By observing the issue from these angles, the researcher will gain a more comprehensive approach to the issue, since these aspects are impacted by various factors.


According to Robson (1993), the kind of study influences the research design to be applied. The study incorporates an exploratory research design to identify potential relationships between variables. The study will also use both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantifiable and unquantifiable data will be integrated into the study (Johnson & Christensen 2010). Quantifiable data relates to population, age, and period of time amongst others. On the other hand, unquantifiable data relates to appearance, emotions, and ideas.The systematic plan considered when carrying out a study is identified as the research design. This is the aggregate sum of factors, tools, and procedures considered by the researcher,  during the process of collecting and analyzing data in order to present findings and make valid conclusions. According to Johnson and Christensen (2010), a research design is an ideas’ framework that assists researchers in collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data in an orderly and coherent way. The research upholds a descriptive design and positivism philosophy.

Consequently, the research will incorporate a case study design  because the researcher will conduct a case study of the Chinese female society. The researcher will collect all the information relating to Chinese women in urban areas, hence analyzing and making a conclusion. It also includes using secondary data. The data collected will be from other researches on the same topic, books, reports, ministerial websites, journal articles, and other credible sources (Saunders 2003). This approach is preferred because it needs fewer resources in terms of time, human resource, and financial assistance as compared to other approaches.

Expected Results

            The researcher expects to confirm that the one-child policy has made a great positive contribution to the status of urban women in China in the 21st century. Although negative impacts are expected, undivided attention on the only child in a nuclear family has played a significant role in improving the status of women in China. However, the research also expects to find that the intended social status of women has not been attained, and a girl is still identified as a weaker child as compared to her male counterpart (Fong 2002; Rosenberg & Jing 1996).  

Limitations and Delimitations

            The research will encounter various limitations. Firstly, the issue of time is evident. Time limit will prevent the researcher from carrying out a thorough research. Secondly, the limitation of available resources relating to the topic in question is also evident. Majority of the resources are focused on genera aspects of the society such as families. Thirdly, the literature available on women issues is quite limited. Moreover, the literature makes assumptions. For example, it is assumed that parents only have the option of loving a son or a daughter. This is not phrased correctly as parents may choose not to love the daughter if they fail to get a son.


            The current social setting in China in so far as the women are concerned may have been influenced by various issues. Therefore, it is, relevant to assess whether specific policies, such as the one-child policy, have contributed to the current social setting in China. As indicated, the recommended research will assess whether the status of Chinese urban women in the 21st century has been caused by the one-child policy established in 1979. The researcher will realize the findings through the exploratory research of the case study. Although there is limitation of literature and other resources, such as time, the researcher will make the relevant approach to ensure that the objectives of the research are obtained.