Saturday, 19 June, 2021


China announces three-child policy to boost births

China lets couples have 3 kids to counter ageing population China eases birth limits to allow families to have three children
Bennie Garza | 31 May, 2021, 23:53

The Chinese government will allow couples to have three children, according to state-run news agency Xinhua, the latest easing of strict family planning policies as the country tries to avert a demographic crisis.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said the Communist Party announced the new policy at a politburo meeting on Monday.

The change will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country's population structure, fulfilling the country's strategy of actively coping with an ageing population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources", the report says.

Fearing a population explosion, in 1979 China implemented its one-child policy, which succeeded in curbing population growth but also led to coerced sterilisations and sex-selective abortions that exacerbated a gender imbalance as many parents preferred male children.

It did not specify what the support measures would be.

Data also showed a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman for 2020 alone, on a par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy.

Zhang Xinyu, a 30-year-old mother of one from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, said the problem was that women bore most of the responsibility for raising children. Some experts also suggested the policy may be too little too late and will fail to address the real causes of the shrinking population.

The policy, which was implemented more effectively in urban areas, was enforced through several means, including incentivising families financially to have one child, making contraceptives widely available, and imposing sanctions against those who violated the policy. "It is estimated that China's total population will remain at more than 1.4 billion in the near future", Ning said.

China's population now stands at approximately 1.41 billion, according to the country's latest census. Some couples have said the rising cost of living in China makes having a second child too expensive.

A 2015 study by the Academy of Macroeconomic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission found almost half of China's unregistered citizens were illiterate or lacked formal education. That is why the falling birth rate is a matter of concern for China.

A person without a hukou record in China is denied public services, such as education and health care, and is barred from getting married, finding a job or even opening a bank account.

China's census, released earlier this month, showed that around 12 million babies were born past year - a significant decrease from the 18 million in 2016, and the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s.

China's economy has boomed in recent years and its demographic needs have changed.

A third of Chinese are forecast to be elderly by 2050, heaping huge pressure on the state to provide pensions and healthcare.

Ye Liu, lecturer in global development at King's College London, said the new policy was "unlikely to incentivise birth rates dramatically".

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