Child Policies in China and Singapore
Different countries of the world have different patterns of development, which are the cause of the principles of share of political power, economic growth, domestic and international policies and other. As a result of global political, economic and military interaction, the ways of development of various countries may change. Nevertheless, in peaceful time, governments tend to modernize and develop social and economic policies in order to increase the overall wealth of the population and stimulate economic growth. At the same time, one should mention that specific policies directed towards the citizens of a country may be attempts of mitigating undesirable processes in society. One of such issues is birth control and child policies, which have crucial effect on economic development. This paper compares and contrasts child policies of the People’s Republic of China and Singapore in order to reveal the causes for their creation and the outcomes of their application. In addition, it analyzes the aspects of social, political and economic development of these countries in order to explain the cause-consecutive connection between them and the aspects of child policies for each country. This analysis is useful for future specialists in economy, sociology and politology because it enhances the scope of practices associated with social and political analysis thus increasing one’s professional competency.
Cultural and Social Characteristics of People’s Republic of China and Singapore
The Characteristic of People’s Republic of China
One needs to compare and contrast cultural and social characteristics of People’s Republic of China and Singapore in order to provide the basic reasoning of the analyzed child policies. Both countries have similarities and differences in territory, social and economic development, which impact the range of policies selected by their leaders. Thus, China contains one-fifth of the world-s population being the world’s fastest growing economy. This country has a long history, which amounts to more than several thousands of years, which is why it has strong traditional influences. At the same time, rapid economic, industrial and technological development results to the fact that Chinese people support and add to modern progress leading various technical innovations. As a result, modern China is a country where traditional agricultural professions and rural population go along with the recent technological inventions, businessmen, IT-specialists, designers and others.
A thousand-century cultural history of China accounts for the fact that the country has strong cultural values, which are present in the national identity and psychology. Experts claim that traditional Chinese values, which influence the psyche of population, “are harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty, and filial piety”. The values of the population are conveyed to national leaders through media and other sources influencing the aspects of the introduced policies. One of the most significant values in Chinese society is harmony, which is why the citizens tend to maintain it regarding different aspects of life and phenomena or reality. For instance, they are sympathetic to initiatives of preserving harmony between nature and humankind, people and society, mind and body, and representatives of different communities. Along with that, the Chinese citizens are loyal and patriotic, which is why they support the initiatives of the government and feel their direct responsibility for the wealth of the country. Similarly, one of the most respected and valuable aspect in Chinese culture rising from Confucianism is benevolence demonstrated through family ties and blood connection. Extremely valued, it extends to “friendships and social relationships, producing a full set of values that include justice, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty, self-discipline, and commitment”. Consequently, the citizens of China follow the policing guidelines of their governors because they are sure that the proposed initiatives would make their country better.
The policies of the country are regulated by the Communist party, which controls the predominant aspects of lives of Chinese people. Despite this fact, the Communist party has achieved specific improvements in some areas such as women rights and increase of the literacy rate from 15% to 75% in 50 years. Rapid industrial and technical progress led to the fact that China has certain drawbacks in environmental policies. In this respect, experts claim that despite its government has achieved stable 8% annual economic growth and increased the standards of living of population, such rapid development caused ramifications for natural environment. As a result, one may state that in recent decades, the country has achieved a contradicting situation when stable growth of the population and its overall wealth may ensue in the lack of resources and place for living. The recent dramatic increase in the demand for natural resources of all kinds including water, land and energy may have led to the need for introduction of population restricting policies. As is demonstrated by the analysis presented below, one of such ways is the introduction of policies restricting the population from having more than one child in a family.
The Characteristic of People’s Republic of Singapore
In contrast to China, Singapore has significantly smaller population located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula and sharing different cultural traditions such as Indian, Malay, Chinese and Western ones. At the same time, one may say that some characteristics of social and economic development of Singapore are similar to Chinese ones but restored in smaller scale. Thus, the main island of the country is extremely urbanized and populated having industrial townships, which house around 86% of the population. Originally, the country was a British colony for a period of about 150 years, and emerged as a nation after 1965. Despite being a comparatively young country, it has undergone through dramatic social and economic transformations, which affected its modern development. For instance, until 1970s, it had housing shortages and poor infrastructure, high criminality, and unemployment, which were combated by “survival policy” introduced by the government. The features of this policy included low taxes for foreign investors, the development of infrastructure, and strict political regulative force. Consequently, it took the country 30 years to turn from a trading port into a prosperous and industrialized society.
Some part of cultural values shared by the population of Singapore coincides with the Chinese ones mainly because of the predominance of Chinese inhabitants and support of Confucianism. Thus, as a result of Confucian teaching, Singaporeans strongly value and adhere to a hierarchical relationship in society. The demonstration of this issue in daily situations is respect and formality towards superiors, keeping of the individual opinion to themselves by juniors and avoiding questioning the authorities. This aspect coincides with the behavior of the population of China and can be characterized as the overall characteristic of Asian societies. Similarly, one more aspect that unites code values of the population of China and Singapore is that they represent collectivistic cultures. Scholars describe such cultures as “likely to stress the maintenance of surface harmony, censure by the group and face-saving”. Thus, similarly to the citizens of China, their Singaporean counterparts respect the ties of kinship, family and blood connections as well as their national leaders. This collectivism is demonstrated through “we consciousness”, which means that its representatives think and support the decisions that benefit a group but not an individual. As a result, the government used this feature of the thinking pattern of the society in order to implement social and economic connections, which some experts identify as interdependent. For instance, Yeo claims that the government of Singapore keeps the concept of a family more as “a working unit, an economic unit” rather than just a family. Therefore, the success of policies implemented by the government is mostly caused by their strong adherence by the citizens.
In order to support high quality of life throughout the country, the government of Singapore introduces a wide range of policies addressing different aspects of life and strictly regulating them. Among them, one can name introduction of death penalty for drug smuggling, penalties for transgressions, such as throwing garbage on the floor, engaging in politics outside registered parties and so on, in addition, one of the most vivid and comprehensive policing strategies were implemented in the sphere of children planning and birth control. In this sense, some scholars argue that the children planning policies implemented in Singapore were the most aggressive in contrast to other countries in South Asian region. Therefore, in order to boost economic development, the government popularized the perspective of having three children in a family. However, as the population increased, specific restrictions were gradually imposed to reduce the average quantity of children in families. Consequently, Singapore and China are the Asian countries, which have significant experience in child and population policies. At the same time, the aspects of these policies have been different because of various factors.
The Analysis of Child Policies of People’s Republic of China and Singapore
Child Policies Implemented in China
Former decision of the Chinese government to reduce the speed of population growth was caused by the need for balancing the rate of economic growth with the boost of population. Apparently, China’s population has already reached 1.4 billion people, which imposed high pressure on the demand of natural resources including land and water. As a result, the government introduced a policy, according to which Chinese families were allowed to have only one child in a family. Experts state that the goal of the policy was “to make sure that population growth did not outpace economic development and to ease environmental and natural resource challenges and imbalances caused by a rapidly expanding population”. It is important to mention that the population rate during the introduction of the policy was significantly lower, which, nevertheless, did not restrict it from expanding.
The aspects of the introduced policies changed in the course of years, which depended on the demographic statistics. For instance, when introduced in 1979, it allowed ethnic majority of the country having only one child in a family. Among the supporting benefits of the policy, there was the equal access of population to education as well as different childcare and healthcare benefits. At the same time, the policy required serious legal and economic restrictions for families breaking this regulation. Thus, they were left with no benefits listed above and imposed a fine along with the reports that women who became pregnant having a child were forced to have an abortion along with further sterilization. It is important to mention though that the policy was difficult to control in rural population, which is why in rural areas, people strongly opposed the policy. Later, in the 1980s, the one-child regulations was weakened allowing parents having a second child in the case each parent is the only child in a family. At the same time, it is evident that the population growth gradually became balanced with the economic growth turning China from an agricultural into industrialized state.
It is important to characterize the impact of the one-child policy and its following regulations as they allowed boosting the economic progress of the country. Thus, the birth ratio of the country has dropped to 0.7%. In addition, the growth of population has turned to be below food supply shortage, the access to education and healthcare has increased creating beneficial opportunities for the citizens. However, also it is important to mention specific negative outcomes, which were the reasons for the recent policy change allowing the citizens having two children. Among them, there is discrimination of female-born fetuses caused by traditions favoring males, which led to female babies ending up homeless, in orphanages or even killed. This caused the distortion of the gender balance of the Chinese population, with men outnumbering women in tens millions. At the same time, it has become evident that in modern times, the 30% of the Chinese population are above the age of 50, which is why the quantity of labor force in the country has significantly reduced. Furthermore, it is predicted that “the number of Chinese citizens over the age of 65 will soar to 219 million in 2030 and grow to make up a quarter of China’s entire population by 2050”. Therefore, modern child policies in China favor families, which plan having two children, claiming this measure to be “an active response to an ageing population”. This policy is also backed up by the slogans that the Chinese government respects human rights and stops the invasive and punitive control over its society. In this sense, experts claim that the leaders of the Chinese nation have calculated that low fertility rate balancing between 1.2 and 1.5 children per woman would lead the country to a demographic crisis. Consequently, the newest regulations are directed towards correcting the mistakes of the past, which has driven the country from the threat of one character to another one. It is suggested that the policy would take positive effect because, as it was revealed earlier, the population tends to favor giving two children in the families.
Child Policies Implemented in Singapore
The analysis of the issue of population control in Singapore demonstrates that this country has practiced implementing different child related policies in order to boost or restrain the expanding of population. Scholars state that Singapore has long been known as a country using social policies to influence fertility and reproductive behavior. In this sense, the child policies of Singapore can be divided into two phases, during which the government practiced completely different approaches. Along with implementation of strict family planning policies, the government’s role in health and social security areas has been limited placing a significant part of this burden on families and individuals. In addition to this, the cause for the initiation of the first stage or “anti-natal” child related policy Singapore had a high birth rate and fertility rate, which was similar to the ones in China. However, despite some experts stating that policies were more invasive and aggressive, they seem to be broader than their Chinese analogues. For instance, the government of Singapore made contraceptives available at low cost, created family planning clinics, popularized the advantages of having a small family in media and supported small families with education and health care benefits. As a result, the annual birth rate of 4.4% of 1957, of which only 1% was caused by immigration, has been gradually decreased. This allowed the country assuring stable economic growth along with flexibility in terms of economic options for the local population. Therefore, the outcomes of birth-ration restraining policy was that fertility rate dropped to 1.2 in 2011 allowing the country achieving a stable economic progress. However, similar to China, this policy had specific negative outcomes such as the increase of the ageing population and insufficient workers to fill the job vacancies of the state. As a result, there was a need for switching the policies towards the perspective of the increase of the working population.
The second stage of child-related policies in Singapore may be characterized as “pro-natalist” because they supported the increase of the birth ratio in families and throughout the country overall. Originally, such polices were introduced in 1984 after the exposure of negative demographic trends in population and were supported by additional interventions in 1987. The former prime minister of the country explained the need for such initiatives as “It is too late for us to reverse our policies and have our women go back to their primary role as mothers, the creators and protectors of the next generation”. Thus, the government started favoring the families, which planned having three children by means of introducing various financial and healthcare bonuses and carers’ leave for fathers. Along with this, various slogans and social advertisements were introduced in order to change thinking patterns of the population. Among the most vividly enforced ones, there was the slogan “have three children or more if you can afford it” and Valentine cards with words “make love, not money”. Other initiatives included special week-end cruise offers for future couples, among other. At the same time, the unique aspect of child policing in Singapore is that the government discussed the perspective of bettering not only the “quantity” but the “quality” of population. This idea is presented in the initiatives for better-educated, intelligent women and female graduates overall supporting their will of having three or more children. By this means, the government attempted to combat the worrying trend that female graduates decided to make careers instead of families. In addition, another side of such policing was discouragement of lesser-educated women to have children, and sterilization incentives of $10,000 for women “no “O” levels below the age of 30 to stop having children after their first or second child. The latest initiative is valid even now assuring the economic progress of the country and combating aging of population. As a result, modern Singapore has become a prosperous country to live in because of the boost of economic growth and attractiveness to investors. Without any doubt, these aspects have become possible because of the population planning policies, which allowed the country turning from a port and a former poor colony of Britain into a highly industrialized nation.
Summarizing the presented information, it can be concluded that China and Singapore are the only countries of the Asian region, in which aggressive child policies allowed achieving stable economic progress. Despite both states have different history and culture, they have some much in common because their population shares Confucian values such as devotion to the family, collectivistic thinking and support of authority. Partially, these cultural aspects led to the fact that the native population tended to support the initiatives introduced by the government. Thus, China, having a several thousand year history, faced a problem of misbalance between the growth of population and availability of natural resources for living. The introduction of a one-child policy allowed the country reducing the population growth ratio along with the increase of economic efficacy. As a result, the government of China refused from restrictions and allowed the nation having two children in a family. Despite Singapore had significantly lower population ratio and territory, it faced the same problems as China. Similarly, Singaporeans were restricted from having more than one child in a family, which allowed boosting the economy of the country and increasing the access to education and healthcare. However, similar to China, the negative result of this policy was the dramatic increase of the population aged above 50 who cannot be labor force. Consequently, modern policies in the characterized countries provide support for families with two or more children in order to correct the drawbacks of former policing. Therefore, from the example of China and Singapore, one can clearly see that it is possible to control economic and social processes by means of correcting nationwide child policies. Consequently, states can use family policing as an efficient tool for initiating demographic changes, which would affect the economy of the countries. However, in such cases, governments should consider discussed negative outcomes of such policies in order to avoid their incidence.