News that the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee had agreed to abandon the 33-year-old one-child policy, has been hyped and spun out of all recognition even though it is not quite as dramatic as it sounds. This, because China has been loosening that restriction for years, mostly in a nod to concerns about an ageing workforce and the tardy system of replacement births.
The gender warriors might face the greatest disappointment from the change in policy. They’ve long argued that it led to the rise to rise in sex-selective abortion among couples who want their only child to be a boy, resulting in 117.7 male births for every 100 girls in 2012. The global ratio is between 103 and 107 boys for every 100 girls, as Joshua Keating explains in his Slate blog.
It’s a moot point though, if abandoning the one-child policy will change gender ratios. India is a case in point. It has encouraged two-child families for decades but being a democratic and free society, Indians could have a dozen babies if they so desired. But the sex ratios are equally skewed, which says more about the grave disservice to the female sex rather than any attempt to stay within prescribed limits on procreation.