Published: Mon, May 31, 2021

China allows couples to have three children: State media

China allows couples to have three children: State media

In an attempt to avoid a demographic crisis, the Chinese government announced in 2015 it would loosen the birth restrictions to allow up to two children per family.

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.

Early this month, a once-in-a-decade census showed that China's population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s, to 1.41 billion.

Couples say they are put off by high costs of raising a child, disruption to their jobs and the need to look after elderly parents.

China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020, recent data showed, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy and far short of the roughly 2.1 needed for replacement level.

The first reason is the historical decline in the rate of population growth in China.

Leaders also agreed China needs to raise its retirement age to keep more people in the workforce and improve pension and health services for the elderly, Xinhua said.

In a poll on Xinhua's Weibo account asking #AreYouReady for the three-child policy, about 29,000 of 31,000 respondents said they would "never think of it" while the remainder chose among the options: "I'm ready and very eager to do so", "it's on my agenda", or "I'm hesitating and there's lot to consider".

China's one-child policy was introduced in 1979 and for more than 35 years limited couples to a single offspring, as the country tried to address overpopulation and alleviate poverty. China, the most populous nation in the world, is said to be planning to remove all limits on the number of children a family can have, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a historic move to end to a policy that caused many controversial disputes and left the world's second-largest economy short of labor.

Why does China now want to increase the population?

"China's population will reach a peak in the future, but the specific time is still uncertain".

The share of working-age people 15 to 59 in the population fell to 63.3 per cent a year ago from 70.1 per cent a decade earlier.

China's declining birthrate means the population may soon begin shrinking.

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.

Why do many remain skeptical about the three-child policy? "And a third is even more impossible".

"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. But due to the policy, by the year 1990, the national birth rate was reduced to 1.7 percent.

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