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In December, China celebrates the 40th anniversary of the launch of its “reform and opening up” economic programme. Yet the greatest impact of the policy has been on the lives of Chinese people themselves.

Height and weight

Men and women are, on average, taller and heavier than they were 40 years ago, because of improved nutrition.


Consumption of meat in China has skyrocketed, from a once-a-year treat to a daily staple for most city dwellers.

Family size

China’s one-child policy, which set a limit on the number of children parents could have, dramatically reduced the average family size. Today’s youth must soon support a rapidly ageing population. 


Beijing credits the one-child policy for limiting the country’s population. The cost was heartbreak for tens of millions of families. 

In 2015, the Communist party announced that couples would be allowed to have two children, to “balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population”.

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