So they leave their children in the countryside in the care of their grandparents.And then there's the part about those at the other end of the life cycle, many living in state-sponsored retirement homes, where residents are "bundled up against the cold, as there's no heat in the winter here." Kuhn explains:
[The elementary school principal] says this causes developmental problems for some kids.
"The grandparents' love is a doting love," he says. "They don't know how to love them. They don't know what to give them or talk to them about."
Most of them have no income or children to support them.As for the one-child policy that is one reason places like Rudong County are in this situation, Kuhn quotes a former local Communist Party secretary who helped enforce that nation's one-child policy back in the 1960s:
In recent years, this town went from having one such facility to having five. That doesn't include private retirement homes, where children pay to have their parents looked after.
Having a second child wasn't allowed, so we had to work on them and persuade them to have an abortion. At the time, we village cadres' work revolved around women's big bellies.A sociologist/demographer, Chen Youhua, who grew up in Rudong County and now teaches at Nanjing University projects that "in a 150-year period from 1950 to 2100, China's population will have gone from about 500 million to a peak of 1.4 billion and then decline more or less to where it started." He explains:
"Only yesterday, China was emphasizing the advantages of the one-child policy," he points out. "To encourage people the next day to have children is a 180-degree reversal."Other posts about rural China are here, here and here.
For decades, he adds, Chinese have been taught that all of their problems — from poverty to chaos — boil down to having too many people. He says that idea is deeply ingrained and difficult to change.