China's One Child Policy


In 1979 the Chinese government started its “one child” policy because the population of the country was growing too fast. A married couple was only allowed to have one child. If families followed this government plan they would get free education, health care and money for their only child. However, families that had two or more children were punished. They had to pay for everything themselves and got no help from the government. They even had to pay more tax.

To help control population growth, China allowed women to have free abortionsand gave them birth control pills for free.

The government’s plan also caused many problems for China. Parents often wanted to have a boy instead of a girl in order to carry on the family name. As a result female babies were often left on the streets by their mothers and some were even killed. 90% of unborn babies that are aborted are female.

In the last 25 years China’s population growth has slowed down. Without the one-child policy there would probably be about 300 million more people living in China today.

The law worked mostly in cities, where the government had more control over the people. In the countryside where a lot of poor farmers and minorities lived , the laws were not so strict. People were not punished for having two or more children.


Population in China

in millions

















World Population- Table of Contents


Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets


Online Exercises


Related Topics



  • abortion = an operation that kills an unborn baby
  • birth control pill = a pill that you take so that you cannot get a baby
  • carry on =keep
  • cause =lead to, to be the reason for
  • female =relating to a woman
  • follow = to do what the government says
  • government =the people who rule a country
  • growth =how something grows or gets bigger
  • health care =the system that looks after the health of all people in a country
  • however =but
  • law =the rules that a country has
  • minority = a small group of people in a country
  • policy = the government’s way of doing something
  • married couple = husband and wife
  • population = the number of people living in a place
  • punish =to make someone suffer because they have done something wrong or illegal
  • strict =exact; something that you must do or follow
  • tax = the money that you have to pay to the government