Study Measures Impact of China's One-Child Policy

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The Chinese policy that limits most families to having one child has had psychological fallout for the children born after it was instituted in 1979, economists report in the journal Science.

The researchers asked two groups of people -- born just before and just after the policy was put into place -- to play a set of games using real money.

In a game involving trust, test subjects were paired with anonymous partners. Player One was given 100 renminbi (about $16) and invited to pass it along to Player Two. The money would then be tripled, and Player Two could pass some of it back.

Players born after the one-child policy was instituted were less likely to pass money along than the older participants.

The researchers concluded that the "one-child-policy" players were less trusting, less trustworthy, less competitive and more risk-averse than the older ones.

And on the basis of a personality test, they were also "less conscientious, more neurotic and more pessimistic," said an author of the study, Lisa Cameron, an economist at Monash University in Australia.

In recent years, the population control policy has come under strong criticism from some Chinese policy advisers and scholars, partly on the grounds that it will slow the nation's growth rate as the population ages.

science

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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