Thursday, October 29, 2015 1:28 pm
With its population ageing fast, China today announced the abandonment of its hugely controversial one-child policy.
The official Xinhua news agency said all couples would be allowed two children.
It cited a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party after a four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the course of the world’s second-largest economy over the next five years.
The policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom.
But after years of strict, sometimes brutal enforcement by a government commission, China’s population — the world’s largest — is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking.
China has been relaxing the policy for some years, with cities like Beijing asking couples to apply for licence to have a second child.
In 2013, China allowed couples nationwide to have a second child if either parent is an only child.
Then in 2014,Beijing asked couples who want a second child to apply.
By the end of September, 53,034 couples in Beijing had submitted applications, among which 48,392 couples were approved. Of the potential mothers, 57 percent were aged between 31 and 35 years old.
China introduced its family planning policy in the late 1970s to rein in population growth by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two, allowing the birth of a second child if the first child was a girl.
Beijing, with permanent population in excess of 20 million, estimated that the new policy would increase this number by more than 270,000, with around 54,200 additional births annually until 2019, when the figure will peak and begin to go down steadily.