China's family planning policy, which began about 30 years ago, has benefited the country and the world at large, said Li Bin, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
She made the statement at a population and development forum on Thursday.
In broad terms, the policy limits one child to one family, especially in cities. Li said it has helped control the country's population growth and reduce its fertility rate to 1.8 children per woman in 2008 from 5.8 children three decades ago.
"China's per capita GDP reached US$2,400 in 2007," Li said. "Without the policy, that figure, according to official calculations, would have been US$1,800."
Besides, if not for the population control, the country's resources and environment would face even heavier pressure, as its per capita arable land, grain, forest, water and energy would decrease by 20 percent, she added.
Family planning also helped improve the standard of living in China.
The country's average life expectancy has risen from 68 three decades ago to 73 today. That's the same level in moderately developed countries.
Education has also improved. Chinese people 15 years old and above, now receive 8.5 years of education on average. 30 years ago they only received 4.5 years of education.
Li said, the policy in China has also helped postpone the world population from reaching 6 billion people, by four years.
Combined with poverty reduction policies, family planning has helped millions of Chinese come out of poverty. 30 years ago, 250 million people were in poverty, today there are 15 million, she said.
China's population stood at 1.32 billion at the end of last year. The country spread the idea of family planning in the 1970s and officially initiated the policy in the early 1980s.
(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2008)