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Past Featured Event

Seminar: ‘The lie of the One-Child Policy: Differing treatments of the second child in Chinese newspapers since 1979’

Speaker:  Ms Rachel Woodlee

PhD student,  Department of Social Policy & Intervention, University of Oxford.


Abstract: Despite the dominant narrative of China’s “One-Child Policy” since 1979, there were diverse exceptions across time and space that allowed some couples to have a second child. One of the most interesting examples, which has not yet been investigated in the English-language literature, is the “Experiment of Eight Million People”. This policy initiative in Gansu, Shanxi, Hebei, and Hubei provinces started in the mid-1980s and allowed all rural couples to have two children.   From the results of investigations after the first two decades of the experiment, it can be persuasively argued that the “Experiment of Eight Million People” smoothed the process of population ageing and had other positive social and political effects.  Yet contrary to general assumptions about the Chinese policy experimentation process, this experiment was never expanded. The main question of my dissertation is simple: why was this the case?

In this portion of the thesis, I investigate the stance taken in official Chinese media across time and place to judge 1) the general change or continuity in stances toward the second child or 2-child exceptions to the one-child rule, and 2) if and when there was awareness at the central level of the policy experiment. Two national newspapers (the People’s Daily and the Enlightenment Daily) were compared to the Gansu Daily and Hebei Daily in order to tease out differences attributable to the institutional divide between the central and local governments and the landscape of policy ideas.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Seminar Series - ‘Family dynamics, health and ageing in contemporary China’

Hilary Term 2016 Seminar Series ‘Family dynamics, health and ageing in contemporary China’ Thursdays 14:00 – 15:30, in the Seminar Room at 66 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PR Convenor: Professor Sarah Harper, Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing All welcome.

Post event resources


Presentation here.

CopyRight - Rachel Woodlee.

Event Details

28 January 2016 14:00 - 15:30


Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

66 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PR