Two-child policy is a government-imposed limit of two children allowed per family or the payment of government subsidies only to the first two children. It is used for some population groups in China, has previously been used in Vietnam, and has been discussed in the Philippines. Although not by law, in the 1970s, citizens of Hong Kong were also highly encouraged to have two children as a limit, and it was used as part of the region's family planning strategies.
During the 1970s, in Chinese citizens were encouraged to have two children. The ongoing Cultural Revolution and the strain it placed on the nation were large factors. During this time, the birth rate dropped from nearly 6 children per woman to just under 3. (The colloquial term "births per woman" is usually formalized as the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), a technical term in demographic analysis meaning the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates through her lifetime.)
As China's youngest generation (born under the one-child policy, which first became a requirement for most couples in 1979) is now of age for formation of the next generation, a single child would be left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. In response to this issue, as of 2009 all provinces maintained that couples were allowed to have two children if both parents were only children themselves. In November 2013, the Chinese government announced that it will further relax the policy by allowing families to have two children if one of the parents is an only child.
Moreover, in accordance with PRC's affirmative action policies towards ethnic minorities, all non-Han ethnic groups are subjected to different rules and are usually allowed to have two children in urban areas, and three or four in rural areas. Han Chinese living in rural areas are often permitted to have two children, as exceptions exist if the first child is a daughter. Because of cases such as these, as well as urban couples who simply pay a fine (or "social maintenance fee") to have more children, the overall fertility rate of mainland China is, in fact, closer to two children per family than to one child per family (1.8).
In Hong Kong, the Eugenics League was found in 1936, which became The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong in 1950. The organisation provides family planning advice, sex education, birth control services to the general public of Hong Kong. In the 1970s, due to the rapidly rising population, it launched the "Two is Enough" campaign, which reduced the general birth rate through educational means. The organisation, founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation with its counterparts in seven other countries. The total fertility rate in Hong Kong is currently 1.04 children per woman, one of the lowest in the world.
In July 2007, the think tank the Optimum Population Trust (now Population Matters) advocated what the Daily Mail described as a "'two-child' policy" to combat population increases and climate change in the United Kingdom. The article stated:
"According to the report, published by the Optimum Population Trust, Britain's high birth rate is a major factor in the current level of climate change, which can only be combatted if families voluntarily limit the number of children they have."
In October 2012, the Conservative Party's proposed policy of only paying child benefit for the first two children of unemployed parents has been described as a 'two-child policy', and has been fronted by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith. The Conservative's coalition partners the Liberal Democrats are likely to block any attempts to implement the policy before the next general election.
Vietnam had a two-child policy in the 1960s, which was used again in the 1990s. The movement has been proven to lower Vietnam's birth rate, which had previously been at nearly 4 children per woman. In 2003, the plan was discontinued. In 2008, it was announced that the government was considering reviving it.
- CIA World Factbook
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