Challenging Myths about China’s One-Child Policy



Martin King Whyte, Harvard University

Date and Time

October 20, 2015 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM October 20.


Stanford Center at Peking University, The Lee Jung Sen Building

Langrun Yuan, Peking University

Date: October 20, 2015  (Tuesday)

Time: 16:30 – 18:00  

Language: Lecture in English

Venue: Stanford Center at Peking University

China’s controversial one-child policy, launched in 1980, continues to generate controversy and misinformation.  Several generalizations about the policy are widely believed:  that Mao Zedong consistently opposed efforts to limit China’s population growth; that as a result China’s population continued to grow rapidly until after his death, necessitating the switch to mandatory and coercive birth limits; that the launching of the one-child policy led to a dramatic decline in China’s fertility rate; and that due to the one-child policy, China and the world benefited from 400 million births that were thereby prevented. These are just a few of the common claims about China’s one-child policy that are myths, contradicted by the facts.  This talk by Prof Whyte, which is based on a paper co-authored with demographers Wang Feng and Yong Cai, is designed to systematically correct the record. 

Martin K. Whyte is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Emeritus. He was Professor of Sociology at Harvard from 2000 to 2015. Previously, he taught at the University of Michigan and George Washington University. His research and teaching specialties are comparative sociology, sociology of the family, sociology of development, the sociological study of contemporary China, and the study of post-communist transitions. Within sociology, Whyte’s primary interest has been in historical and comparative questions—why particular societies are organized the way they are and how differences across societies affect the nature of people’s lives. Whyte is a member of the American Sociological Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the Sociological Research Association, the Population Association of America, and the National Committee for U.S. China Relations.



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