Original research article| Volume 85, ISSUE 6, P563-569, June 2012

History of the Chinese Family Planning program: 1970���2010



      China launched a nationwide family planning program offering birth control methods and family planning services in the 1970s. Promotion of the widespread use of long-term contraceptive methods has been one of the program's core strategies. This paper reviews the history of China's Family Planning Program at the national level from 1970 to 2010. Special attention is paid to the history of contraception policy.

      Study Design

      This study provides an overview of the last four decades of the Chinese Family Planning Program. Programmatic goals are highlighted during different time periods, with special attention being paid to the role of contraceptive use and the history of contraceptive policy.


      The Chinese Family Planning Program has experienced several transitions. It has evolved from the 1970s period of moderate policy, represented by wan, xi, shao (late marriage and childbearing, birth spacing and limited fertility), through the strict one-child policy of 1979 to the early 1990s. From the mid-1990s to the present, a relatively lenient policy has been in force, characterized by client-centered informed choice.


      The success of the Chinese Family Planning Program has long been heavily dependent on policies advocated by the central government, including programs promoting contraception to reduce fertility rates. The Program also depended on a logistical support system, including organizational safeguards and free provision of contraception and family planning services.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Contraception
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • National Population and Family Planning Commission of P.R. China (NPFPC) & China Population and Development Research Centre
        Collection of commonly used population and family planning data of China.
        China Population Publishing House, Beijing2010
        • Peng P.
        Encyclopedia of Chinese family planning.
        China Population Publishing House, Beijing1997
        • Qian X.
        China's population policy: theory and methods.
        Stud Fam Plann. 1983; 14: 295-301
        • National Population and Family Planning Commission of P.R. China (NPFPC)
        History of population and family planning.
        China Population Publishing House, Beijing2007
        • Banister J.
        China's changing population.
        Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA1987
        • Dudley L.
        • Poston J.
        Patterns of contraceptive use in China.
        Stud Fam Plann. 1986; 17: 217-227
        • Wang C.
        Life course of contraceptive under China's family planning: 1970���2010.
        Sea Knowledge. 2011; 2: 34-41
        • Sun M.
        The history of family planning.
        North China Women and Children Press, Changchun1990
        • Greenhalgh S.
        • Bongaarts J.
        Fertility policy in China: future options.
        Science. 1987; 215: 1167-1172
        • Penny K.
        • Choi C.
        China's one-child family policy.
        BMJ. 1999; 319: 992-994
        • Coale J.
        • Wang F.
        • Riley N.
        • Lin F.
        Recent trends in fertility and nuptiality in China.
        Science. 1991; 251: 389-393
        • Therese H.
        • Li L.
        • Zhu W.
        The effect of China's one-child family policy after 25 years.
        N Engl J Med. 2005; 353: 1171-1176
        • Zhang W.
        • Cao X.
        Family planning during the economic reform era.
        in: Zhao Z. Guo F. Transition and challenge: China's population at the beginning of the 21st century. Oxford University Press, London2007: 19-32 (Chapter 2)
        • Wang C.
        The effects of client-centered policy of informed choice for contraceptive practice in China.
        Popul Develop. 2011; 17: 80-90
        • Nancy E.
        China's population: new trends and challenges.
        Popul Bull. 2004; 59: 3-35
        • National Population and Family Planning Commission of P.R. China (NPFPC)
        Family planning and demographic yearbook 2010.
        China Population Publishing House, Beijing2011
        • Attane I.
        China's family planning policy: an overview of its past and future.
        Stud Fam Plann. 2002; 33: 103-113
        • Merli G.
        • Smith L.
        Has the Chinese family planning policy been successful in changing fertility preferences.
        Demography. 2002; 39: 557-572
        • Peng X.
        Demographic transition in China.
        Clarendon Press, Oxford1991
        • Zeng Y.
        Options for fertility policy transition in China.
        Popul Devel Rev. 2007; 33: 215-246
        • Kaufman J.
        • Zhang E.
        • Xie Z.
        Quality of care in China: scaling up a pilot project into a national reform program.
        Stud Fam Plann. 2006; 37: 17-28
        • Lawrence W.
        Promoting the one-child policy in China.
        J Pub Health Policy. 1988; 9: 273-283
        • Wang C.
        • Zheng X.
        • Chen G.
        The longitudinal trends of contraceptive behavior among married people of reproductive age in China.
        Popul J. 2007; 164: 57-62
        • Gu B.
        • Zhang E.
        • Xie Z.
        Toward a quality of care approach reorientation of the family planning program in China.
        (Available at) (Accessed March 26, 2009)
        • Tu P.
        Promote the client-centered policy of informed choice of contraceptives and improve the quality care of family planning in China.
        Popul Res. 1995; 19: 72-73
        • Wang F.
        Can China afford to continue its one-child policy? The Asia Pacific issues 2005; 77.
        (Available at) (Accessed August 26, 2011)
      1. National Bureau of Statistics of China. Communiqu�� of the national bureau of statistics of People's Republic of China on major figures of the 2010 population census.
        (Available at) (Accessed August 26, 2011)
        • Hu A.
        • Hu L.
        • Chang Z.
        China's economic growth and poverty reduction (1978���2004).
        J Tsinghua Univ (Philosophy and Social Sciences). 2006; 21: 105-115
        • Bloom D.
        • Finlay J.
        Demographic change and economic growth in Asia.
        Asian Econ Policy Rev. 2009; 4: 45-64