Thursday, May 15, 2008

China's Population Control Program and An Earthquake

The recent devastating earthquake to hit China has many rethinking the Draconian 1979 policy that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child. Why? Because it appears that thousands may have lost their only child due to this natural disaster. China's rich have paid thousands in fines to be exempt from the policy, but what about the many poor that dominates this region that didn't have that luxery? There are other reasons why this policy is a disaster and I discussed them in a previous article commemorating the US reaching 300 million. Here is an excerpt from that article:

The reality is, countries are not poor because of how many people they have. They are poor because of economic policies. One of my favorite examples is Singapore, which is the second most densely populated independent country in the world. In spite of the fact that Singapore has almost twice as many people per square mile as the much poorer Mexico, it is one of the most affluent countries in the world and has the highest standard of living in Asia, and is ranked 11th in the world. Instead of encouraging population control, it has education programs and tax incentives that encourages large families. It has virtually no natural resources of its own, but the people enjoy high incomes and unemployment of less than 3 percent. This is, of course, one of the lowest unemployment levels in the world (the US, which has around 10 percent of the population per square mile, is at 5 percent). This didn't happen by accident, but by policies that support economic freedom, wealth creation, and by avoiding taxation that weakens economic growth.

We learn from Singapore, one of the most "over populated" countries in the world, that large numbers of people don't hurt economies. Government policies do. China and India's economic renaissance is proving that every day as they change their policies and move towards free markets.

If "more people" is "bad", why does virtually every city in the country encourage people to move to them and as towns lose numbers it is a sign of decline? The common sense behind the need for more people in cities works the same for countries, as long as the policies of the government work.

I hope that China learns this lesson and uses this tragedy as an opportunity to change a program that makes good science fiction but terrible policy.

Warning: the above video is graphic and disturbing to some.

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Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

China's policy may be too harsh, but at least they have one. You can't keep "hiding your head" when it comes to population.

12:59 PM  

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