Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Reproductive States: Global Perspectives On The Invention And Implementation Of Population Policy


The year 2014 marked the de facto end to China’s “one-child policy,” the most extreme example of state intrusion into the realm of reproduction. Deng Xiaoping’s 1979 initiative built on earlier, short-lived “birth planning” campaigns. The 1979 policy set an absolute population limit of 1.2 billion and tied this number to the goal of achieving modernization by 2000. A 1980 “Open Letter” defined the “one-child policy” as an absolute priority, and the government’s strict reinforcement of the policy in the early 1990s finally reduced rates of reproduction. This chapter chronicles the stages of policy implementation between 1979 and 2014 and places these developments against the backdrop of politics and the economy in the PRC and in the context of shifts in global population discourse over the same period. Even with the end of the one-child policy, China will feel its deep social, political, and demographic consequences for decades to come.


one-child policy, modernization, birth planning, Malthusianism, Cold War, Open Letter, Deng Xiaoping

Published By

Oxford University Press


R. Solinger And M. Nakachi


This material was originally published in Reproductive States: Global Perspectives on the Invention and Implementation of Population Policy edited by Rickie Solinger and Mie Nakachi, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

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