Issues of Overpopulation in China and India

China and India’s populations have both started to become a serious problem. China’s population is now up to an astounding 1.35 billion as of 2013 and India’s is catching up with China with 1.27 billion. The governments of both China and India were forced to do something about this issue. India has taken a couple different measures to fix overpopulation including forced vasectomies, providing contraceptives, and creating different incentives for women and men to lower the number of children they are having; China was forced to limit its citizen to only one child per family; they went as far as using punishments, both mild and severe, for those that had more than one child.

India’s way of dealing with the extreme overpopulation is majority incentive based. The Indian government made goals for the country and their reach practically ends there; they left the decision of what to do about overpopulation up to its many states. Some states reacted with coercion and are succeeding in meeting the set goals. These states pushed hard with serious action such as “forbidding parents with more than two children from holding local office, or disqualifying government workers from certain benefits if they have larger families” (NY Times).

Other states have been in idle and done little or nothing about the issue. Other steps take to lower India’s population include “the honeymoon package” that rewards young couples with 5,000 rupees if they wait two years after marriage to have children, if they continue to wait for three years, they then receive 7,500 rupees. (Niambar) Other, harsher methods were used as well, such as the sterilization camps former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi put in place.

At these camps there were forced vasectomies; reports say that “103 women were sterilized by two doctors in a single day at the Manikchak Rural Health Center in the Malda district of West Bengal, before being dumped in a nearby field without any medical follow-up.” (Life Site News) All of these attempts to lower India’s population clearly have been affective, the numbers prove it. In 1975 India’s population growth rate was at 2.3%, since then, the population growth has slowly gone down and currently India is at 1.3%, a huge improvement.


The effects were mostly positive because a good majority of the policies and incentives were based on the choice of the woman or man. However, the more harsh actions that were taken had much less positive results. The most obvious being the sterilization camps. They were performed by doctors with horrible conditions such as a middle school of the tops of desks. Some of the surgeries were in places that lacked running water, electricity and some even used tools that were rusty and had not been sterilized since the last surgery.

Of the many women who underwent the sterilization surgeries “More than half (58.2%) of the sterilized women had at least one adverse side effect.” (NC register) Other than that obvious exception India’s attempts to lower the population have gone seemingly well. Because India’s citizens often have a choice the incentives generally benefit those who take part and don’t affect those who do not. Examples of harmless incentives include raffles (sterilization being your ticket) for TV’s, cash prizes, motorcycles, blenders, and even cars!

The overpopulation in China all started when Mao Zedong encouraged the Chinese people to have more children, this resulted in a fertility rate of 5.91 children per woman in 1966. (World Bank) In 1964, the Chinese government realized something had to be done about the overpopulation and created the first National Family Planning office. ( The National Family Planning offices gave out mass amounts of free contraceptives and promoted late marriage, IUD’s, and sterilization. The fertility rate then decreased slightly, but was still alarmingly high.

Many of the more rural towns had little or no access to the contraceptives and medical care so the family planning businesses made the towns in the country their priority and tried to expand their impact to them. In 1979, China then took a more strict approach to deal with overpopulation. They implemented the one child policy, this policy stated that only one child per family was allowed. The one child policy lowered the population of China dramatically but has some disturbingly negative effects on the citizens of China, especially the women and children.

The one child policy’s enforcement ranged from fairly mild to astonishinglyextreme. On the more harsh end women who had (or was pregnant with) a second child have and could be beaten. There are also stories of women being forced into abortion such as Feng Jianmei, who was forced into an abortion at 7 months of pregnancy and left there to lie with her dead infant. (Life news) On the more minor side of the consequences of multiple children there are fines and taxis.

People who chose to have more than one child would either be taxed large amounts (up to fifty percent of their income) or they could also be punished by loss of employment. (Hilali 10) In some, relatively rare cases, the one child policy can be avoided, but only by the rich. The fines are steep, sometimes being twice as much as the annual income of the family, but the families with more money can afford the fines therefore they are able to have more children.

The one child policy worked very well for the country as a whole. In 1979 the fertility rate for China was 2.9 and since has dropped to 1.55. ( the effects on China’s citizens, however, are not nearly as positive. Because of traditional beliefs and family pressure to have the only child be a male, female children are sometimes either aborted or killed after birth. This has caused a serious imbalance in the female to male ratio. According to the 2010 census, in China, for every 100 females there were 118 males. ( Not only has the one child policy skewed China’s sex ratio it has also been hard on the underclass citizens of the country.

Many families in china rely on their children to help contribute to the family’s income by either getting a job or working on the family farm. Now that there is a limit to how many children can be had many are suffering financially. Another, often overlooked, problem is the children. Having a sibling has a multitude of benefits for all of the children. Having a brother or sister teaches children how to share, how to socialize, and how to spend time with someone other than the child’s parents. Since the government of China has made 90% of urban children an only child some believe that China could grow to become a socially awkward, parent dependent, selfish country. (

Based on the fertility rates both in the acme of the two countries populations and the two countries current fertility rates China’s one child policy worked much better (shown by the graph below). Although India’s incentive based actions were much gentler on the citizens of India the numbers aren’t where they should be in order for the population to stop increasing in size. The long term success of the policies could be different, though.

China’s one child policy worked better for lowering the population quickly but may have negative long term effects on the country in the long run. India took multiple different approaches to try to control overpopulation, these include forced sterilization, free contraceptives, and encouraging their citizens to wait to have children with large rewards;

China had to limit its citizens to only one child per family; they used punishments, both mild and severe, for those who chose to disobey the policy and have more than one child. Although both countries have done their best to lower the population China has been more successful. Despite India’s efforts the nation is predicted to surpass China and become the most populated country in the world by 2030.

(Daily mail) Though brute force and strict laws can sometimes be harsh and difficult to deal with, every tool box needs a hammer, and sometimes a hammer needs to be used to get the job done.