The one-child policy was part of a birth planning program designed to control the size of the rapidly growing population of the People's Republic of China. Distinct from the family planning policies of most other countries, which focus on providing contraceptive options to help women have the number of children they want, it set a limit on the number of births parents could have, making it the world's most extreme example of population planning. It was introduced in 1979 (after a decade-long two-child policy), modified beginning in the mid 1980s to allow rural parents a second child if the first was a daughter, and then lasted three more decades before the government announced in late 2015 a reversion to a two-child limit. The policy also allowed exceptions for some other groups, including ethnic minorities. Thus, the term "one-child policy" has been called a "misnomer", because for nearly 30 of the 36 years that it existed (1979–2015), about half of all parents in China were allowed to have a second child.
To enforce existing birth limits (of one or two children), provincial governments could, and did, require the use of contraception, abortion, and sterilization to ensure compliance, and imposed enormous fines for violations. Local and national governments created commissions to promote the program and monitor compliance. China also rewarded families with one child, in accordance with the instructions on further family planning issued by the CPC central committee and the state council in that year, regulations awarded 5 yuan per month for families with one child. Parents who had only one child would also get a "one-child glory certificate".