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Twins Used to Beat China’s “One Child” Policy

An inordinate amount of twins are sprouting up all over China. Go to the shopping mall, hang out in the middle class districts of cities, and you will see them: two kids who are the same age, more often than not dressed in matching clothes, being toted around by a single set of parents. “I [...]

An inordinate amount of twins are sprouting up all over China. Go to the shopping mall, hang out in the middle class districts of cities, and you will see them: two kids who are the same age, more often than not dressed in matching clothes, being toted around by a single set of parents. “I had two classes that have two sets of twins each,” my wife exclaimed in surprise when she first realized how common multiple child births have become in China. Twins are so frequent here that it is easy to presume that they are not all the product of the natural genetic lottery.

They are not: twins are being used to beat China’s birth control policies.

As we have previously found out, there is no such thing as a “one child policy” in China. Rather, there is a family planning policy that determines how many children a couple can have based on a number of factors. Only a third of the population is restricted to having only a single child, most people in China can have at least two. But if a couple wants more children than they are allotted without having to pay a fine there is a loophole in the system:

Multi-child pregnancies.

Twins in China

“If a mother has twins it is the same as one child,” an acquaintance explained how her country’s population control restrictions view multi-child births. “If she has more than three children at once the government helps her with money.”

Each birth, no matter how many babies come out of it is counted only once as far as China’s family planning policy is concerned. So there are no penalties for having multiple children in China, just so they are had all at once. If a woman births quadruplets, not only is there no penalty but the government provides the family with additional support.

As I walk through the streets of China and see pairs of babies, matching toddlers, and mirror image kids all over the place, it is clear that an inordinate amount of people are shooting for multi-child pregnancies. This is not a natural fluke. If a couple wants to raise their chances of becoming pregnant with more than one kid at the same time they head to the nearest pharmacy and pick up some Clomifene Citrate capsules or another type of fertility drug. A prescription is not always needed, and the chance of having twins rises by up to a third. This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to circumvent China’s birth control policies, and the country has been inundated with twins because of it.

Filed under: China, Uncategorized

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3548 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Martin Pietrzak May 29, 2012, 7:18 am

    Wow, I had no idea the one child policy only affect a part of the population. I’m not surprised people found a loophole in the system, usually they do whenever the government interferes in their private matters. Good for them.

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    • Wade Shepard May 29, 2012, 8:04 am

      Very true. It is difficult to really govern a population who doesn’t wish to follow a particular social policy. Although most Chinese people agree with the family planning policy this does not necessarily mean that they want to follow them haha. It is interesting how these loopholes act like the holes in the top of a rice cooker — it lets out the pressure, so to speak.

      Thanks for the comment.

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