BEIJING: China has allowed married couples to have upto three children, a major policy shift from the existing limit of two after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births.
China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities.
“To further optimise the birth policy, (China) will implement a one-married-couple-can-have-three-children policy,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a report following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping. “Allowing every couple to have three children and implementing related support policies will help improve the population’s structure,” it added.
The policy 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”, it said,
It wasn’t clear when the move would take effect and didn’t specify the support measures, although the meeting was to discuss major policy measures to be implemented in the five-year period.
China has been gradually reforming its stringent birth policy that limited most families for many years to only having a single child, with a second child allowed since 2016.
Early this month, China’s once-in-a-decade census showed that the population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s, to 1.41 billion. 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.
China’s politburo also said it would phase in delays in retirement ages, but did not provide any details. Fines of 130,000 yuan ($20,440) were being imposed on people for having a third child as of late last year.