Friday, November 06, 2015

Lionel Jensen on China's Sticky One-Child Policy

Lionel Jensen
Notre Dame

An old UC Berkeley friend of mine got quoted in a recent Letter from China column by Didi Kirsten Tatlow, "'One Child' Culture is Entrenched in China" (New York Times, November 4, 2015):
"China has succeeded in creating a single-child culture," said Lionel Jensen, a professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame[, explaining that s]ince the mid-1980s and then again more emphatically after 1992, the highest organs of government," as well as the late leader Deng Xiaoping, "have urged the population to seek merit for self and nation in making money . . . . 'To get rich is glorious,' and 'Jump into the Sea of Commerce,' such slogans have convinced many individuals and families that making money is a key sign of success and a means of self-preservation and enrichment" . . . . Having one child "is patriotic, definitively Chinese, and economically rational" . . . . As a result, [only a small] . . . number of people . . . applied to have a second child once it was permitted in 2013 to couples where one partner was a single child . . . . "The very understanding of the family has changed," said Mr. Jensen, adding that economics were likely to be a powerful factor in decision-making for a while to come.
In other words, kids are expensive, and China's one-child policy accustomed people to having just one, so Chinese couples generally decide to have only one anyway despite the change in policy. That, by the way, is a pattern emerging throughout the world.

Though I can just hear Lionel's distinctive voice in these quoted words above, I've not actually heard from him for several years.

As Mattie Ross said, time just gets away from us . . .



Post a Comment

<< Home