How can Countries Control Their Population? – Government (200 Level Course
A population policy is defined as ‘a deliberate effort by a national government to influence birth rate, death rate and migration.’ 129 counties have such policies today, as they are crucial in parts of the world with a high population growth rate. These are usually L.E.D.C’s in places like Africa and Asia. They are vital because if the population in these countries continues to grow in the way it is doing, many people will face starvation and famine in the future.
This report will focus on the extreme population policy in China, and the rather less extreme population policy in Kenya.
China’s Population Policy
China first introduced its population policy in 1979 as a drastic way of lowering its extremely high birth rate, therefore lowering its overall rapid population growth, and in the future, stabilising its population. It is called the ‘one child policy’. The policy is enforced all over the country, but as China is so large, it is only really strictly abided to in the more rural areas.
The grounds of the policy are that, firstly, a Chinese couple need permission to get married. The accepted ages are around 28 for men and 25 for women. This is so that people do not have children at a young age, therefore making it less likely that they will have a large family. Once married, the couple have to sign a ‘one child certificate’, stating that they will have no more than one live birth. If they sign this agreement then they are given:
Priority for housing, education and health care.
A monthly payment of a subsidy (similar to a family allowance)
Higher pensions on retirement.
If the couple break the agreement, then those benefits are removed and they are fined.
After a woman has her first child, a tremendous pressure is on them to have an abortion if they become pregnant again. In most parts of China, women are expected to sterilise themselves after their first birth, and in some places there have even been accusations of officials forcing women to be sterilised.
The policy has had relative success since its introduction. The fertility rate (the average number of children born to each women) of China was 2.7 at the start of the policy in 1979, whereas it was down to 1.9 in 1994. If the policy continues, the population growth rate will have fallen to just 0.5% per year by the year 2025. This will cause the population to stabilise at around 1.5 billion people. Because of this, there will be more food for the people, leading to a doubling of life expectancy and a rise in literary rates. But even with the policy in force, there still may not be enough food to feed all of the people.
Although the policy is successfully bringing down the birth rate, this decrease in babies will have negative long-term effects on the country. Perhaps the main problem is female infanticide. This is where parents dump their baby if it is female. People do this because they feel they need a boy to carry on the family tradition. There are also reports of women having abortions if they have a scan and it shows that the baby is a girl. A further effect of female infanticide is that there will be more men than women in the future. This shortage of brides will mean that many men will be left unmarried, which will go against China’s traditions and moral.
The shrinking family size may also cause problems as today’s parents retire. In poorer societies, it is traditional that children look after their parents in their old age. With fewer children there will be less support for the parents when they retire.
Kenya’s population Policy
Kenya introduced their population policy in 1965, making it one of the oldest in Africa. It is different to China’s population policy in that it uses persuasion to try and lower the birth rate instead of force. It was introduced not only to slow down the birth rate and stabilise the population, but also to find ways of improving women’s status in society.
Traditionally, women have improved their status in the community by having lots of children. The more children the women have, the higher up and more respected they are in the community. Kenya’s population policy aims to, among other things, help women to improve their status by getting jobs, therefore earning their own income. In doing this, the women would be relieving the social pressure on themselves to have children.
The policy also aims to reduce teenage pregnancy, which is vital, as one third of women still get pregnant under the age of 18. Other aims of the policy are:
To reduce fertility levels, therefore bringing down the birth rate.
To reduce internal migration which causes unplanned settlements in towns and cities, which would eventually lead to overcrowding. There would also be a lack of people farming the land, which would lead to a shortage of food.
To persuade and motivate males to use family planning.
To improve the status of women.
To make education available to everyone, particularly women who, on average, receive only 3 years of formal education.
To widen the availability of contraception through family planning clinics.
The policy has been relatively successful, as it has reduced the fertility rate from 8 to 6.5 children per family. Also, the use of contraception has risen from 10% to 27%, and women are increasingly gaining respect and status through work instead of childbirth.
Although the policy is succeeding, progress is slow. The cultural barriers between the people and the lack of political commitment to the policy means that the policy is in danger of failing. Because of the dramatic falls in the death rate, and the extremely high birth rate that the country has, Kenya’s population growth is one of the highest in the world. Unless Kenya adopts dramatic ways of controlling the birth rate like those that are used in China, the population will continue to grow, which will cause the country to become overcrowded, and eventually lead to a lack of food and resources for the people.
In my opinion, Kenya has much better ideas about how to control the birth rate although they obviously need the commitment from the government that they currently do not have. However, China’s population policy is much more successful, and although female infanticide is a big problem, the Chinese policy is achieving its targets much more frequently than the Kenyan policy. So I think that out of the two population policies, the Chinese one has to be seen as the best, as it is more successful.