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China might finally scrap its birth limit policy
Published on: 2018-05-23
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034China is planning to abandon all limits it imposes on the number of children a family can have - ending a controversial, decades-old policy.

The State Council, or cabinet, has commissioned research on the effects of ending the policy on a nationwide basis.

031China’s population is aging rapidly, with the number of births dropping by 3.5 percent to 17.23 million last year despite the country’s decision in late 2015 to relax the “one-child” policy from 1979 and allow couples to have a second child.

030The country implemented the one-child policy to limit population growth, but officials are worried that a dwindling workforce will not be able to support the aging citizenry. Authorities also hope to remove a source of international criticism toward the restrictive policy.

A decision could be made in the last quarter of this year or in 2019. “It’s late for China to remove birth limits even within this year but it’s better than never,” said Chen Jian, a former official at the National Family Planning Commission, who’s now a vice president of the China Society of Economic Reform.

“Scrapping birth limits will have little effect on the tendency of China’s declining births.” A policy change would end one of the world’s largest social experiments, which left the world’s most populous nation with a rapidly aging population and about 30 million more males than females.

032The policies also have forced generations of couples to pay fines, submit to abortions or raise children surreptitiously.

But coming so soon after the shift to a two-child limit, any change will likely be regarded as an admission that relaxing the policy has not increased birth rates sufficiently, according to a scholar, who said he doesn’t believe the new policy would make much of a difference either.

“People are not having children in China because they cannot afford them. That’s not going to change whether you have a one-child policy, a two-child policy or a 200-child policy,” Professor Steve Tsang, head of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, told The Independent of the UK.

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