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The Evolution of China's Birth-Planning Policy and Policy Making before the 1980s Open Access

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The thesis reviews the origin and evolution of China’s birth-planning policy before the 1980s, explains how the idea of birth planning was created in the 1950s, and identifies what led China to adopt the one-child policy in the late 1970s. By taking the city of Shanghai as a case study, it shows the birth-planning policy remained constant despite sporadic political turmoil, and large-scale coercion, including forced abortion and sterilization, had actually been carried out in administrative areas in the 1960s and 1970s. Such regional measures would be adopted nationwide in the following one-child policy period. By studying the top CCP leaders attitude, logic, motivation and roles in policy making before and after Mao Zedong’s death, and the mechanism between the central and local levels in policy implementation, it demonstrates that 1) the top leadership played a deciding role in formulating the most coercive one-child policy, while the role of China’s scholars was only to support policy making; 2) it was the planning system that led to the top leadership's resolution on strict birth control and encouraged local cadres to resort to coercion in enforcement.

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