From Too Many People to Too Few

In Commentary, Reports

Chinese culture is centered on the family. The parent-child relationship is the first of the five Confucian relationships that govern society and among the most important. Families in China were traditionally large, in part because children—particularly sons—are needed to perform ancestor rites. Even language reflects the importance of family: Chinese contains distinctive words for paternal and maternal uncles, aunts and grandparents, as well as for older and younger brothers and sisters. And so the Chinese Communist Party’s 1980 introduction of the one child policy reshaped a society once steeped in filial…

First published in the Wall Street Journal.

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Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl is a contributing correspondent at Science magazine and the author of Unnatural Selection, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Mara has written for The Atlantic, Harper’s, Scientific American, Popular Science, The Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy. A longtime correspondent in China, she now lives in Minneapolis.


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