China overturns one-child policy after 35 years
China has abolished its one-child policy after thirty five years, allowing couples to have two children.
After a four-day meeting in Beijing, China’s ruling Communist Party said on Thursday China will “fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an aging population.”
The historic change was “intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an aging population,” Xinhua news agency reported.
The UN estimates that by 2050 China will have nearly 440 million over-60s. Meanwhile, the working-age population, those aged between 15 and 59, fell by 3.71 million last year – a trend that is expected to continue.
According to Wang Feng, a professor at Fudan University and a leading demographic expert on China, “China has already begun to feel an unfolding crisis in terms of its population change.”
“History will look back to see the one-child policy as one of the most glaring policy mistakes that China has made in its modern history,” he added.
Wang said the one-child policy was ineffective and unnecessary since China’s fertility rates were already slowing by the 1980s.
Human rights organizations welcomed the change but expressed concern about remaining controls.
In recent years, there has been a gradual relaxation of China’s family planning laws, which already permitted ethnic minority families and rural couples whose firstborn was a girl to have more than one child. Furthermore, since 2013, couples in many parts of the country have been allowed to have two children if one parent was an only child.