Why China Is Ending Its One-Child Policy
For decades, China has restricted most urban couples' abilities to have more than one child, enforcing the law with fines and even forced abortions and sterilization. But this week, the country announced it will increase it's one-child policy — to two.
China's one-child policy was enacted in the late 1970s, when then-leader Deng Xiaoping determined the nation's skyrocketing population threatened to stifle its economic growth, The New York Times reports. But now, China's aging population could do the very same thing.
"To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development," the state-run news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing a report issued by the ruling Communist Party. "China will fully implement the policy of 'one couple, two children' in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population."
Despite the change in policy, some experts feel few couples will opt to add to their own families thanks to the cost and difficulty of child-rearing in the country.
"I don't think a lot of parents would act on it because the economic pressure of raising children is very high in China," Mu Guangzong, a professor of demography at Peking University, told The New York Times by phone. "The birthrate in China is low and its population is aging quickly, so from the policy point of view, it's a good thing as it will help combat a shortage of labor force in the future. But many parents simply don't have the economic conditions to raise more children."
China has in recent years eased its one-child policy restrictions, allowing some couples to apply for the right to have a second child. But in 2013, just 12 percent of the nation's eligible couples submitted applications, according to The New York Times. The country's new two-child policy, the newspaper reports, is a more forceful action to "replenish the nation’s work force and encourage more consumer spending."
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