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After the foundation of The People's Republic of China in 1949, China entered its demographic transition: first mortality began to fall rapidly and second, fertility remained for many years at about an average of six children per woman. As a result of this, China experienced rapid population growth due to the high number of children born, to a sharp decline of infant mortality rate and to the increase of life expectancy at birth. 4

Life expectancy at birth is a key measurement of economic development and health care levels. In China, life expectancy at birth has shown a large increase within a short period of time. The country's life expectancy at birth jumped from about 35 years in 1949 to 63 in 1975 and to 73.18 years in 2008. According to a study, published recently by Beijing-based Science Press, average life expectancy will be 85 in 2050. 1

From 1950 China has had a period of high fertility with the total fertility rate around six children per woman. Between 1958 and 1961, China experienced a period of famine that lead to a large drop in fertility and a large excess of deaths. This period of crisis was followed by a recovery period in which fertility rate increased rapidly and reached a peak in 1963 because of compensatory childbearing after the famine. In 1970 the Government formulated the first anti-natalist policy named 'later-longer-fewer', and that promoted later births, longer spacing between births and fewer births. This policy was followed in 1979 by the family planning program 'one-child policy'.4 Since the introduction of the one-child policy, the fertility rate in China has fallen from over three births per woman in 1980 (already a sharp reduction from more than five births per woman in the early 1970s) to approximately 1.8 births in 2008. 1


Unless otherwise noted content is from THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. Copyright 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.

1 People's Republic of China, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Republic_of_China

4 "Population Growth in China: The Basic Characteristics of China's Demographic Transition" by Maristella Bergaglio, www.globalgeografia.it/temi/Population%20Growth%20in%20China.pdf


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