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The Lancet Examines Changes To China’s Family Planning Policy

The Lancet reports on changes in the governance of China’s family planning policy. “On March 10, nearly 32 years to the day since China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) was established to oversee the world’s largest, longest-standing population control program, the country’s leaders announced plans to dissolve it into the Ministry of Health,” the journal writes, noting, “Four days later, the National People’s Congress rubber-stamped the proposal and the commission ceased to exist, leaving the future of the country’s fertility policy in doubt.” The Lancet continues, “Many observers forecast a change in China’s fertility policy this year following the country’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition, but the disappearance of the commission caught some by surprise.”

“Some say change is overdue,” the journal writes, adding, “For years, economists and demographers have argued that by constraining the size of the next generation, the country’s fertility policy has contributed to a grave demographic imbalance that will emerge in the coming decades as the country’s elderly outstrip its labor force.” The Lancet continues, “The Chinese Government’s adherence to the [so-called] one-child policy reflects a deeply held belief about the relation between population and prosperity,” and adds, “When the policy is finally dismantled, reformers may rely on that same logic to take it apart. David Lampton, director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, … points out that in the context of a diminishing workforce, population growth may promote economic growth” (Alcorn, 3/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.