What is it? It is a policy implemented by the Chinese government as a method of controlling the population.
When was it implemented? The one-child policy was introduced in 1979
Why? It was a response to an explosive population growth, and mandated that couples from China's Han majority could only have one child.
Facts: According to the Chinese government 400 million births were prevented.
On October 29, 2015, it was reported that the existing law would be changed to a two-child policy, citing a statement from the Communist Party of China.
The new law became effective on January 1, 2016.
During the period of Mao Zedong's leadership in China, the birth rate fell from 37 per thousand to 20 per thousand.
Infant mortality declined from 227 per thousand births in 1949 to 53 per thousand in 1981, and life expectancy dramatically increased from around 35 years in 1948 to 66 years in 1976.
History: The one-child policy was originally designed to be a One-Generation Policy.
The one-child limit was most strictly enforced in densely populated urban areas.
Beginning in 1980, official policy granted local officials the flexibility to make exceptions and allow second children in the case of "practical difficulties" (such as cases in which the father is a disabled serviceman) or when both parents are single children.
Furthermore, families with children with disabilities have different policies and families whose first child suffers from physical disability, mental illness, or intellectual disability were allowed to have more children.
Children born in overseas countries were not counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from abroad were allowed to have a second child.
As of 2007, only 35.9% of the population were subject to a strict one-child limit. 52.9% were permitted to have a second child if their first was a daughter; 9.6% of Chinese couples were permitted two children regardless of their gender; and 1.6%—mainly Tibetans—had no limit at all.
Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a new exception to the regulations was announced in Sichuan province for parents who had lost children in the earthquake.
People have also tried to evade the policy by giving birth to a second child in Hong Kong, but at least for Guangdong residents, the one-child policy was also enforced if the birth was given in Hong Kong or abroad.
For instance, in Guangdong, the fee is between 3 and 6 annual incomes for incomes below the per capita income of the district, plus 1 to 2 times the annual income exceeding the average.
As part of the policy, women were required to have a contraceptive intrauterine device surgically installed after having a first child.
From 1980 to 2014, 324 million Chinese women were fitted with IUDs in this way and 107 million were sterilized.
Women who refused these procedures could lose their government employment and their children could lose access to education or health services.
In 2016, following the abolition of the one-child policy, the Chinese government announced that IUD removals would now be paid for by the government.
Abolition: In October 2015, the Chinese news agency Xinhua announced plans of the government to abolish the one-child policy, now allowing all families to have two children.
The new law is effective from 1 January 2016 after it was passed in the standing committee of the National People's Congress on 27 December 2015.
The rationale for the abolition is summarized by former Wall Street Journal reporter Mei Fong: "The reason China is doing this right now is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a result of the one-child policy. And if people don’t start having more children, they’re going to have a vastly diminished workforce to support a huge aging population."
Since the citizens of China are living longer and having fewer children, the growth of the population imbalance is expected to continue.
Reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which referred to a United Nations projections forecast that "China will lose 67 million working-age people by 2030, while simultaneously doubling the number of elderly. That could put immense pressure on the economy and government resources."
Although many critics of China's reproductive restrictions approve of the policy's abolition, some say that the move to the two-child policy will not end forced sterilizations, forced abortions, or government control over birth permits.
Others also state that the abolition is not a sign of the relaxation of authoritarian control in China.
As the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation analysis indicates: "Repealing the one-child policy may not spur a huge baby boom, however, in part because fertility rates are believed to be declining even without the policy's enforcement. Previous easing of the one-child policy have spurred fewer births than expected, and many people among China's younger generations see smaller family sizes as ideal.
The CNN reporter adds that China's new prosperity is also a factor in the declining birth rate, saying, "Couples naturally decide to have fewer children as they move from the fields into the cities, become more educated, and when women establish careers outside the home."