China and the Value of Children

China has a population control policy of one child per couple.  To encourage families to comply, population planning authorities have regularly been giving parents in rural areas amounts ranging from $8 to $17 annually for 18 years, and $144 after the parents reach 60.  Because so many children  died in the recent Sichuan earthquake, the Chinese government has decided to drop the 60 year old age requirement and will compensate the families now.

China has a limited pension and health care system, so parents expect to have a heavy financial dependence on their offspring during their elder years.  For the families whose sole children died, this support is now gone, although the government has permitted these families to adopt.

Recently, there were angry marches in which parents protested the shoddy school buildings in which their children died.  In some cases, the schools were the only buildings to completely collapse, according to Mei Fong, a journalist from Chengdu, China.

According to some news reports, the government is considering extra compensation after authorities have concluded investigations to decide the extent of negligence in the collapse of the school buildings following the quake.