When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birthrates would help lift China's poorest and increase the country's global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.
Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy's repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China's future: whether its "Little Emperor" cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over 65 years old; and, above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China's growth.
"Finished just before the announcement of the policy's demise,
One Child is a touching and captivating anthropological investigation of one of the most invasive laws ever devised." (
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Insightful research of China's One Child Policy
Unexpected. Interesting research based writing, investigating the sources and impact of what was an inhumane policy - more in terms of its execution (literally) than its ideals. Very different listen so not possible to rank it.
Some of the descriptions of people's experiences (men as well as women) are harrowing but overall one has a good sense of a carefully investigated history into the power of the Chinese state over the fertility of its people (women), and its continuing impact today. Not comfortable and very hard to imagine what it must have been like to be a woman subjected to the strictures of this regime. Raises interesting questions about whether this policy to reduce population has actually had the desired outcome, and how a reduced population looks after an ageing one. The spectre of 'designer' babies becomes a reality to the burgeoning wealthy classes of China, while the poor remain disadvantaged.
Yes, it was factual and not really a story in the usual sense. Fairly detached reading but not a problem as the facts and accounts were startling and needed no embellishment.
It is not a long book so it was easy to do so and was surprisingly compelling.
I don't think this was what I expected but I found it very interesting and am glad I listened to it. It most certainly gives much to think about.