Originally implemented in 1980 to curb its rapid population growth, China’s one-child policy has witnessed a fertility rate decline from 2.7 births per woman in 1981 to 1.6 births in 2015. Those who backed the one-child policy claimed it led to 300 million fewer births and lifted 200-400 million people out of poverty. Yet, the policy is not without its toll, with more than 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations having since taken place. Gender imbalance in China, with 115.9 boys born to every 100 girls in 2014, has led to increases in sex-trafficking and prostitution. The Chinese population is aging drastically, with an estimate of one in every three Chinese being over 60 years of age by 2050 and a dwindling working class to support them. The economy is also facing labor shortage and slow growth.
Now, after more than three decades, the Chinese government is ending its controversial one-child policy. Despite the move, experts warn that it will take decades before the demographic crisis is relieved. In the meantime, social and health care needs for the nation’s elderly continues to grow.