Saturday, April 7, 2007

China experiences increase in divorce in conjunction with individualism, planned birth policy

Maureen Fan has an interesting story about social values in China in today’s (April 7) Washington Post, “Chinese Slough Off Old Barriers to Divorce: Breakups Skyrocket Alongside an Increase in Individualism”, at this link:

The story indicates that new generations of Chinese place less importance on family name and reputation than did previous generations, partly because of increased economic independence from communism, and partly because of urbanization.

The story should be studied in view of China’s “one child per family” policy (or “Planned Birth” policy or “jihua shengyu”), which fines parents in urban areas for having more than one child, is unevenly enforced, and is widely criticized as immoral, causing female abortions, leading to discrimination against ethnic groups, and leading to “spoiled children” with the “little emperor” problem among the Gen Y of Chinese, although the last claim seems speculative and little validated by studies. Still, China, with its communist structure, finds itself struggling with individualism, demanding Internet censorship, and wondering how it will handle future pressures from the rest of the world over consumption issues like global warming (which a controlled population should help address). The “planned birth” policy certainly can lead to a spirited discussion if it is compared to debates in the United States and Europe about family values, marriage, and replacement fertility rates.

China has also experienced a public controversy with the common western problem of eminent domain, in the case of homeowner Ms. Wu Ping, whose home was steadfast until now in Chongqing. A typical report (with spectacular photo) is the story by Priya Prakash Royal in "New Jersey Eminent Domain Law" at this link.

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