China Struggles to Maintain One-Child Policy

China's expanding a program to give financial incentives to parents who have only one child. The new scheme is evidence of the difficulty China's having in maintaining a 27-year-old policy that seeks to limit the country's population.

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China is expanding a program to give financial incentives to parents who have only one child. The new scheme is evidence of the difficulty China is having in maintaining a 27-year-old policy that seeks to limit most families to one child. NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Shanghai.

LOUISA LIM: China's now trying to buy its demographic future by offering extra payments to rural families that have only one child. From next year, parents over 60 with just one child will receive annual payments of $75. That's about a fifth of an average farmer's annual income. This move is to try reinforce China's birth control policy by using carrots as well as sticks.

Population experts now sometimes call it the one and half child policy, because rural families with one daughter are allowed to try again for a son. If they have more than one son, families are given hefty fines. But growing incomes, the breakdown of state authority, and the lack of social security networks mean many are willing to pay fines to have extra children. It's hoped this new scheme will go some way to remedying that. China's birth control policy has led to a massive gender imbalance, with an estimated 60 million more boys than girls. Critics say the policy has also led to abuses of power, with local officials forcing women to have late-term abortions and sterilizations against their will.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Shanghai.

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