China to allow couples to have up to three children

China to allow couples to have up to three children

China to allow couples to have up to three children

The government said the policy prevented about 400 million births.

China will allow all couples to have a third child in a bid to arrest the shrinking birthrate and aging population that are risks to the country's long-term economic prospects.

China's gender balance has also been skewed by decades of the one-child policy, and a traditional social preference for boys which prompted a generation of sex-selective abortions and abandoned baby girls.

"Allowing every couple to have three children and implementing related support policies will help improve the population's structure", the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a Politburo meeting held Monday.

The Chinese Communist Party's top leadership made the decision at a meeting on Monday, state media said, in a move created to combat the country's aging population.

Despite concerns about demographic imbalance, Chinese leaders hesitated to simply abolish the one-child policy. In 2018, Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily published a full-page column titled, "Giving birth is a family matter and a national issue, too".

China's population grew at its slowest since the 1950s as births declined, sowing doubt over Beijing's ability to power its economy as it succumbs to the same ageing trends afflicting developed nations like Japan.

The number meant China narrowly missed a target it set in 2016 to boost its population to about 1.42 billion by 2020, with a fertility rate of around 1.8. A spike in births following the previous relaxation to allow most families to have two children was short-lived, with many parents citing the high costs of housing and education as a limiting factor. The 2020 census data showed the proportion of the population aged over 65 rose rapidly over the past decade, from 8.87% in 2010 to 13.5% in 2020. Increasing the age of retirement was also included in the current five-year plan. Now men retire at 60, while women can stop working at 55 for white collar employees.

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