China to allow couples to have three children to boost birthrate
May 31 2021
China's ruling Communist Party will ease birth limits to allow all couples to have three children instead of two to cope with the rapid rise in the average age of its population, a state news agency said today.
China's population of 1.4 billion already was expected to peak later this decade and start to decline.
China's gender balance has 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.
The agency said the policy change will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving China's population structure", but no specific schedule was disclosed.
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.
The Politburo also said that China "will prudently lift the retirement age in a phased manner", according to the report of the meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping.
But in late April, the Financial Times newspaper said the population actually fell in 2020 from a year earlier, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
The ruling party says it prevented as many as 400 million potential births, averting shortages of food and water.
The People's Republic of China famously introduced a "one-child policy" in the late 1970s and '80s in a push to control its booming population.
China's economy has boomed in recent years and its demographic needs have changed.
The share of working-age people 15 to 59 in the population fell to 63.3 per cent past year from 70.1 per cent a decade earlier.
China's census, released earlier this month, showed that around 12 million babies were born previous year - a significant decrease from the 18 million in 2016, and the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s. But that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities, a challenge that persists to this day.
The 2020 number in the nationwide census was actually slightly higher than the 1.4005 billion in 2019 estimated in a smaller official survey published in February previous year. It would also look to educate young people "on marriage and love".
"Having a kid is a devastating blow to career development for women at my age", said Annie Zhang, a 26 year-old insurance professional in Shanghai who got married in April last year.
The country still has 34.9 million more men than women, making up just over 51.24 percent of the population. 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.