Introduced in 1979, China’s one-child policy has resulted in a generation of only children.
The state estimates that 400 million births have been averted since 1980, saving scarce food resources and helping to pull families out of poverty.
But critics say the policy has also created a generation of spoilt brats and reinforced a cultural preference for male heirs who can better take care of their parents in old age – if couples are allowed only one child, many want to make sure it is a boy.
“The parents put all their eggs in one basket,” said Mr Huang Zheng, who was born in 1980.
“This generation carries the burden of too much pressure. But it has already become the norm because everyone is in the same situation.”
Couples violating the policy have had to pay a fine or, in some cases, have been forced to undergo abortions.
But late last year, China said it would allow millions of families to have two children as part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden on the country’s rapidly ageing population. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria photographed a person born every year after the introduction of China’s one-child policy and asked them if they would like to have siblings.
2010: While some only-children long for the company of a sibling, others prefer the solitude of being an only child. When asked if he would like to have siblings, Qin Wuyue, who lives in Shanghai, said: “No, they’re noisy.”
2003: Wang Qi’an has a more “scientific” reason for not wanting any siblings. "I have investigated all my classmates who have brothers or sisters. None of them perform well in their studies.”
1995: When asked if she would like siblings, Ms Lu Mengmeng said: “Maybe brothers, because I think they can protect me.”
1991: Mr Xiao Wenjin: "I wish I had brothers and sisters because I think it's interesting. I wouldn't feel so lonely. We would have to share ... I like to share."
1982: Ms Xu Yufang: "I longed to have a brother to protect me, because I'm alone."