One Child

One Child

The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment

Book - 2016
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An intimate investigation of the world's largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how its effects will shape China for decades to come, and what that means for the rest of the world

When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China's poorest and increase the country's global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.

Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy's repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child , she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China's future: whether its "Little Emperor" cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China's growth.

Weaving in Fong's reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning.
Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2016.
ISBN: 9780544275393
Branch Call Number: 363.9609 Fong 01/2016
Characteristics: 250 pages ;,24 cm
Alternative Title: 1 child


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Apr 26, 2017

Well, this was a relatively fascinating read.

There are so many aspects to China's One Child policy and what makes it what it is, and Fong sets out to disentangle the many threads that make up this subversive policy.

Unlike most people who read this book and reviewed it, I enjoyed Fong's story about her miscarriage and how certain aspects of Chinese culture had affected her life. I felt that it grounded the story and made all those traditions and superstitions all the more real.

Sometimes I felt a lot of the stories were rushed, but how else are you supposed to cover such a huge and expansive topic in 200+ pages?

The only part of the book I didn't like was when Fong was discussing adoption in China. Of course, so many aspects of adoption in China are shady and suspect -- but I'm adopted and so it hurt to have adoption painted in such a vague and negative light. I'm sure the author didn't intend for it to be that way, but that's just how I felt.

This is a mess of a review but if you're at all curious about China or sociology or how a country manages to conjure something up like the One Child policy, check out this book. You'll learn a whole bunch of weird and wonderful facts that'll make you really fun at parties, I promise.


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