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Hongwei Xu photo

How Chinese Children Spend Their Time

Publication Abstract

Xu, Hongwei, and Elizabeth Minca. 2008. "How Chinese Children Spend Their Time." In Applied Demography in the 21st Century edited by Murdock, SH; Swanson, DA.

According to an old Chinese saying, "Children are the future of the country" (Haizi shi zuguo de weilai), the central importance of children to the organization of family life in China has a long history. In recent decades, however, population policies have reshaped family organization regarding children by making "quality" children part of a national agenda. The government now calls on families to focus on the child quality rather than child quantity (e.g., one government slogan says, "Control the population quantity, while improve the population quality"). To achieve national goals, Chinese families are asked to limit fertility. Most often those in cities are allowed one child.

There is greater variation in rural areas, but emphasis on small families with quality children remains. National leaders promote voluntary reduction in fertility, and adherence with one child policy limits, by encouraging citizens to produce fewer, quality children, thereby facilitating China's economic growth and modernization. There is great variation in the popular images of childhood in China today. They range from images of "spoiled little emperors" indulged by parents and grandparents to "unwanted and abandoned baby girls." We do know that whatever their experiences, children in China are growing up in a time of transition, a time when socialism, and its associated ideals and practices, are being altered and replaced by global capitalist ways.

DOI:10.1007/978-1-4020-8329-7_18 (Full Text)

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