China’s ruling Communist Party said on Monday that it would allow all married couples to have three children, the end Two kids policy Which has failed to promote the country’s falling birth rate or address the coming time Demographic crisis.
The move reflects concerns that a rapidly increasing number of older people in China may exacerbate labor shortages and affect the economy in the near future.
The party made the announcement after a meeting of the Politburo, the apex decision-making body. It said that this decision would “improve the population structure of our country and help implement a national strategy to actively respond to the growing age population.”
The date of China’s family planning ban is 1960, when the party first implemented the “one child” policy. To slow population growth and accelerate the economic boom that began then.
In 2013, as Chinese authorities began to understand the implications of the country’s growing population, the government allowed parents who were from families with one child to have two children themselves. Two years later, effective from 1 January 2016, the two-child limit was extended to all.
Demographics in China have long been lobbying for the government to drop all birth restrictions, but Beijing is slowly moving forward, despite the two-child policy not working. The economic pressures and the acceptance among many families that having a child is the norm have led to the flagging birth rate, and experts do not expect significant changes from Monday’s announcement.
Births in China have declined for four consecutive years, including 2020, when the number of children born has been the lowest since the Mao era. The country’s total fertility rate – an estimate of the number of children born during a woman’s lifetime – is now 1.3, much lower than the replacement rate of 2.1.
Nevertheless, the announcement surprised many experts.
“It was a little sudden and earlier than I expected,” said He Yafu, an independent demographic based in the southern Chinese city of Zhanjiang. “Decision makers have probably felt that the population situation is relatively critical.”
China’s rapidly growing population has begun to exert increasing pressure on the state. In Monday’s announcement, the party said it would increase funds to expand services for the country’s retirees.
The number of young workers who operate the factory floor of the world is also decreasing. The Politburo said that the three-child policy would help “retain the advantages of our country in human resource donations”.
In 2020, China had 264 million people aged 60 and older, which is about 18.7 percent of the population. According to the government, the figure is set to increase to more than 300 million people by 2025, or about one-fifth of the population.
The party’s announcement on Monday is likely to revive long-standing complaints about the government’s aggressive control over women’s bodies in China. On China’s popular social media platform, Weibo, users posted comments criticizing the move as ineffective.
“Don’t they know that most of the youth are already so tired that they are just trying to fill their stomachs?” One user wrote, pointing to a common lament about the rising cost of living.
The party on Monday described the decision as acknowledging the need for extensive changes that would make it easier for couples to have more children. It also promised to improve maternity leave and “protect the legitimate rights and interests of women in employment”.
For decades, China’s family planning restrictions empowered authorities to impose punitive fines on most couples who had more than one child and forced millions of Chinese women to undergo abortions or undergo sterilization operations. Civil servants were fired for violating birth restrictions.