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China One Child Policy
China One Child Policy

Thirty-five years after it slammed the brakes on population growth by adopting a one-child policy, China announced Thursday that it would allow all married couples to have two children. The policy is driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children.

The momentous move, revealed in a brief communique from senior Communist Party leaders Thursday night, comes as China is confronting slowing growth and a rapidly aging society, with the number of working-age people shrinking for three years in a row.

Though China remains the world’s most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, the population is expected to peak between 2020 and 2030 and then decline unless the birthrate — now 1.18 children per woman — starts rising.

Couples in China are allowed to have two children from now on. The Chinese government implemented the law after concerns related to the country's shrinking population and aging workforce.

The government in Beijing announced that it was putting an end to its one-child policy in October last year. The law to legally allow couples to have two children was put into effect on Friday. 

Under the new law, married couples would be allowed to have a second child, but limits on additional births would remain.

China Two Child Policy
China Two Child Policy

As a result, around three million extra babies could be born each year over the next five years, officials from the National Health and Family Planning Commission predicted in November 2015. An additional 30 million people would therefore be ready to join the country's labor force by 2050.

Severe gender imbalance and a rapidly aging population characterize China's 1.37-billion-strong population, and experts have expressed concerns that implementing the two-child policy now might do little to address China's population problems. Furthermore, others warn that Chinese couples do not want more children, given the costs of raising a child.

Beijing introduced its one-child policy in the late 1970s to control population growth and bolster food security. Rural families could have two children if the first was a girl - a response to the Chinese tendency to prefer male children to females. Ethnic minorities could also have an extra child.

Officials ensured people conformed to the rules by detailing a system of fines for violators, and raising the possibility of forced abortions. The government argued that the rule was a key factor in contributing to China's economic growth. However, the law caused severe emotional distress to parents and led to sex-selective abortions in the male-dominated society.

The decision to replace the one-child policy with a “two child” one was among the few big changes announced during the four-day Central Committee meeting in Beijing. A fuller summary of the five-year development plan is likely to be released in several days, and the full document will be issued next year.



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