China has announced that it will now allow couples to have up to three children, scrapping its one-child policy that has been implemented for years. This is coming after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates in the country.
China had first scrapped its one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit which has failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births.
The one-child policy was part of a broad program designed to control the size of the rapidly growing population of the People’s Republic of China. It was first encouraged in some areas in 1978 by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, but some experts were skeptical of the impact.
“If relaxing the birth policy was effective, the current two-child policy should have proven to be effective too,” Hao Zhou, a senior economist at Commerzbank, told newsmen.
“But who wants to have three kids? Young people could have two kids at most. The fundamental issue is living costs are too high and life pressures are too huge.”
The cost of raising children in cities has deterred many Chinese couples.
The latest move was approved by President Xi Jinping at a meeting of top Communist Party officials.
It 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,” according to China’s local news agency Xinhua.