Formal comment on “Assessing the impact of the ‘one-child policy’ in China: A synthetic control approach”

Autoři: Daniel Goodkind aff001
Působiště autorů: Independent Researcher, Arlington, VA, United States of America aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Formal Comment
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222705


For nearly half a century, parents in China have faced compulsory quotas allowing them to have no more than one or two children. A great debate in recent years over the impact of this program on China’s population continues in PLOS ONE with the publication of Gietel-Basten et al. (2019). The core question concerns how much higher China’s birth rates might have been had birth quotas not been enacted and enforced. Gietel-Basten et al. argue that the selection of such comparators in recent studies may reflect subjective choices. They profess to avoid such subjectivities by using what they present to be a more scientific, objective, and transparent statistical approach that calculates a weighted average of birth rates of countries with other characteristics similar to China’s. Yet the authors make subjective choices regarding the non-fertility characteristics used to form their comparators which leads to an underestimation of the impact of birth planning. Moreover, their visual presentation, which focuses on the two key sub-phases of the birth program, underrepresents its overall impact. Their comparators suggest that China’s population today would be just 15 million more had it not enacted any birth restrictions since 1970 (one percent above its current population) and that in the absence of one-child limits, which began in 1979, China’s population would be 70 million less. At the same time, the authors acknowledge that the one-child program has had numerous negative consequences. It seems fair to ask how such consequences could result if the program had no significant impact on childbearing decisions.

Klíčová slova:

Birth rates – Comparators – Fertility rates – Children – China – Science policy – Sex ratio – Young adults


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11