Chinas end of one child policy and potential implications on war

China has recently put an end to their one child policy, which banned women in China from having more than one child. This was enforced by forcing women to have abortions, posting ludicrous fines on families and  massive forced sterilizations. For peasants living in the country side, these fine have a much greater weight- they could be several times their income, stripping them of their home, their land and possessions. It is clear that the one child policy has been effective in reducing fertility and population from the graph below.



This one child policy has ironically caused such a backlash that China has decided to reverse it. There are too few babies and far too many unmarried single men. China’s culture places emphasis on the value of male children over female children. If couples are only allowed to have one child, they would much rather that the child be a male. Furthermore, the rapid aging of the country has created a need for new youth. Who will care for the elderly if they significantly outweigh the population of the youth and middle aged people?

My question is what the smaller proportion of young people as a result of this policy will have on the impacts of potentially entering conflict with other states as well as civil wars. As we discussed in class, a states desire to enter conflict is not always means enough to enter conflict. Rather, the state must have the means to do so. If a state such as China has such a high population of elderly men i comparison of men who are eligible to be soldiers, there is less means to fight, especially when the state takes into consideration that we need a certain amount of people to care for the elders- there is such a small relative population of women in the country (as evidenced by the overwhelming single men problem) that women are not a viable option as a main resource to care for the huge population of elders. So my question is, essentially, will/has the unbalanced population structure that is a result of the one child policy been a deterrent to war? Perhaps we will see a higher rate of wars (civil and interstate) in China as the population balances as a result of the end of the one child policy.


4 thoughts on “Chinas end of one child policy and potential implications on war

  1. I find interesting your point that whether or not the end of the One Child Policy has any impacts on the possibility of war/conflict. But I think there will be no impact because the One Child Policy has already become a dead letter. In 2013, it was decided that married couple were allowed to have the second child if one of the couple was the first child. Moreover, heihaizi or “black child” has already been increasing. That’s why it is unclear the abolition of One Child Policy will lead to the expansion of population. So, the abrogation of this policy will have no particular impact on the incidence rate of war.


  2. I agree with the notion that the unbalanced population structure that derived from the One Child Policy has been a deterrent to wars and conflict. With the undergoing diminishment of the youth due to this policy implemented by the Chinese government, the other portion of the population is growing old. This leaves to the range of people eligible to become soldiers diminishing as well, which may be a contributor to the deterrence of conflict and the means of the state to start it.


  3. Great post! I think that China’s one-child policy is a prime example of large-scale 20th century social engineering motivated by a global 1970’s/1980’s fear of future overpopulation in the developing world, likely exacerbated by the film Z.P.G. or Zero Population Growth, as well as neo-Malthusian theory. The legacy of the one-child policy has turned out to be tragically ironic and, furthermore, I believe that the 30 million “missing women” gender imbalance issue is representative of a security crisis within China that threatens its future political, economic, and social stability.


  4. Good Post!
    Though I see the implications of China’s policy from an outside perspective, it had been brought to my attention previously that not only internal conflicts among the nation will happen but also global conflicts in terms of world health and overpopulation. The more individuals to populate the earth might produce a benefit in terms of ideas and such, however such population comes with implications. While China’s one child policy was controversial, its repeal will change at very least the region, to what degree is yet to be determined.


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