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China’s Only Children

January 30, 2013

China’s “one-child” social policy may have unintended effects on the children.



One child, left behind?  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For decades, much of China’s population has been limited to one child per family, with stiff fines for non-compliance. A new report in the journal Science, by economist Lisa Cameron of Monash University in Australia and her colleagues, points out some unintended consequences. Cameron says that adults born just after 1979, when the policy was instated, perform differently in behavioral studies and psychological tests from their slightly older, pre-policy counterparts.

LISA CAMERON (Monash University, Australia):

Being an only child as a result of the policy results in people being less trusting,  more risk-averse, less competitive, less conscientious, and they’re also slightly  more neurotic.

Cameron suspects that being part of a mandated, largely one child society may have effects beyond those of being an only child by parental choice.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.