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The One-Child Policy in Shanghai: Acceptance and Internalization

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China's one-child policy is a major example of social engineering and the subject of human rights concerns. Given the significance of the policy, it is important to ascertain the attitudes of Chinese citizens. We conducted interviews in 2003 with residents of Shanghai who were of childbearing age either at the policy's inception or at the time of the interview. Our respondents, who were generally well educated, did not perceive the policy as extraordinary when it was introduced; resignation to one more intrusive government regulation was mixed with understanding and even approval of the policy. People talked about the political and social context, demographic concerns, family economic strategy, and the results of government-engineered gender equality. Among the young interviewees, the context has changed from a population striving to get by under tight government control to a much richer population that is upwardly mobile and perceives their local government to be basically beneficial. The one-child family is considered normal; few are still concerned with the policy per se, while others see it as unnecessary. The one-child policy seems to reflect Shanghainese current preferences; its status as a legal requirement may be largely irrelevant.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: c/o Dr. Robert Wyman, Department of Biology, Kline Biology Tower, P.O. Box 208103, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8103 2: Department of Biology, Kline Biology Tower, P.O. Box 208103, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8103

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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