Tibetans Favor Small Families

"The more children, the greater the happiness" no longer applies in Tibet, where smaller families are becoming popular.

Tibetans, a minority ethnic group, are treated with a special family planning policy that allows farmers and herdsmen to have as many children as they like, said Xinhua news agency.

However, more and more Tibetans are becoming reluctant to use this privilege.

A recent survey conducted in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, shows that about 30 percent of Lhasa residents want to have only one child, 40 percent would be satisfied with two, and only 19 percent would like to have three or more.

Most Tibetan women have come to realize that the more children a family has, the heavier the financial burden it has to bear, and this may have an adverse impact on the rearing of the children.

"Although we Tibetans are allowed to have more children than the Han people, I prefer to have only one child," said Yangzom, who runs a small retail store near an elementary school in Lhasa, where her husband teaches.

The couple's monthly wages add up to 3,500 yuan (US$420). They spend one-quarter of their salaries on educating their 13-year-old son.

In addition to the normal school curricula, the couple also send their child to a nearby children's center to be trained in art and music, and pay private teachers to tutor him English during school vacations.

"I just want to improve the quality of our life, and create a relatively comfortable environment in which to rear my child," Yangzom said.

"I feel having two children would have been the best choice for me, since our family is not in very good financial condition," said Cering Zhoima, a mother of three daughters who is employed as a sanitation worker in Lhasa.

"My mother keeps asking me to have a son, since she is really obsessed with the old mentality of preferring sons to daughters," she said.

"On one hand, I have to follow my mother's wishes; on the other, I have to worry about the financial burden if I really do so," she complained.

However, her husband does not want her to bear more children and encourages her to be sterilized, saying the quality rather than the quantity of their children weighs heavy on his mind.

Purpu Zhoima, director of the Tibetan Family Planning Commission, quoting the local law, said that Tibet encourages its residents to practice birth control, but the right to make the decision lies with individuals. "The government has never imposed any quota on Tibetan women as far as the number of children is concerned.''

(Eastday.com 03/22/20001)

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