Instaread Summary of One Child The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, by Mei Fong
Five out of five stars
I must confess that my first impression of the book and the associated summary was not a good one. The title states that the one child policy of China in the eighties was the most radical social experiment ever conducted in China, which is patently false. The most radical social experiment of China was the Great Leap Forward that took place between 1958 and 1961, it caused economic productivity to dramatically drop, led to mass starvation and what is generally conceded as the deadliest famine in the history of the world. Reasonable estimates put the number of famine deaths at around 40 million or roughly 5% of the population. Approximately 2.5 million were murdered by the state. It is also estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the houses were deliberately destroyed.
Overcoming that hurdle, I found this summary to be very good, one of the best features is the discussion of the Zero Population Growth Movement of the eighties with the point that the movement to slow population growth was not restricted to China. Forced sterilizations occurred in many other countries, including the United States and the U. S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Another excellent point in the summary is that the demographic changes in China mimic that in other countries, when there is economic growth and women enter the work force, birth rates rapidly decline. It is a sad historical irony that the slowing of population growth in China would have happened quite naturally due to economic expansion.
A third excellent point is the consequences of the lack of people of child-bearing age due to the dramatic reduction in births, specifically the number of females. It is well known that female babies were selectively aborted or even killed as sons were preferred over daughters. With a shortage of women in China, a market for foreign bride acquisition has developed. This has led to the amazing 4-2-1 dynamic in China, where a married couple of two are simultaneously caring for all four of their elderly parents as well as their one child.
This summary accomplished the goal of all such extremely abridged works, after reading it I was not on the fence, I found myself with a desire to read the full book.
This item was made available for free for review purposes.