China's two-child policy now official

China's two-child policy now official

After announcing in late October 2015 that the one-child policy will be relaxed, the central government has finally made the new policy official

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According to the authorities, about three million extra babies will be born each year over the next five years as a result of the new two-child policy.
Photo: AFP

Married couples on the mainland can now have two children. The central government decided to end the country’s controversial one-child policy after concerns were raised over an ageing population and shrinking workforce. 

The change, which was announced in October by the ruling Communist Party, took effect yesterday,   the official Xinhua news agency said.

The “one child policy” was introduced in the late 1970s. It restricted most couples to only a single child through a system of fines for violators and even forced abortions.

For years, authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom and had prevented 400 million births.

Rural families were allowed two children if the first was a girl, while ethnic minorities were allowed an extra offspring, leading some to dub it a “one-and-a-half child” policy.

China’s population – the world’s largest at 1.37 billion – is now ageing rapidly and has a severe gender imbalance. Meanwhile, the country’s workforce is shrinking.

Under the new law, married couples are now allowed to have a second child, but the legislation maintains limits on additional births. 

This would add a total of about 30 million people to the labour force by 2050, officials said.

Still, experts say the shift is likely too little, too late to address China’s looming population crisis.

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