One-Child Policy

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DEFINITION of 'One-Child Policy'

A policy implemented by the Chinese government as a method of controlling the population. The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 in response to an explosive population growth, and mandated that couples from China's Han majority could only have one child. This was intended to alleviate the social, economic and environmental problems associated with the country's rapidly growing population.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'One-Child Policy'

Families can be fined thousands of dollars for having more than one child. Those who volunteer to have just one child are awarded a "Certificate of Honor for Single-Child Parents." It has been estimated that since 1979, the law has prevented approximately 250 million births. In certain cases, families can apply to have a second child for extenuating circumstances such as the death of the only child due to a natural disaster. In rural areas, families can apply to have a second child if the first child is a girl, or if the child has a physical or mental disability.

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