CHINA: China will now allow couples to have three children after a census showed that the country’s population was rapidly aging. The country has now put some relaxation after four decades of strict family planning restrictions.
China embarked upon its one-child policy in 1980, when the Communist Party was concerned that the country’s growing population, which at the time was approaching one billion, would impede economic progress.
Earlier, in 2016, China had relaxed its “one-child policy” which was one of the world’s strictest family planning regulations. In that year, Chinese couples were allowed to have two children due to concerns over the aging workforce and economic stagnation.
According to Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics, annual births in China had reached a record low of 12 million in 2020. The rise in the cost of living and women making their own family planning choices have contributed to the sharp decline of births. The problem is made worse by the country’s pervasive culture of long working hours. There has also been a cultural shift during the decades in which the one-child policy remained in force, with many couples believing that one child is enough, and some expressing no interest in having children.
China’s fertility rate now stands at 1.3 which is below the level needed to maintain a stable population.
The slump threatens a demographic crisis that has alarmed President Xi Jinping’s ruling Communist Party of China. Current statistics will result in a shortage of young workers to drive an economy.
During a meeting on Monday Communist party’s powerful Politburo led by Xi announced a further loosening of the state’s control over the size of families. “To actively respond to the aging population… a couple can have three children,” state media Xinhua reported.
The meeting promised “accompanying support measures” including improving maternity leave, universal childcare, and lowering the costs of education, but without giving firm commitments.