In the latest news out of China, all married couples will now be allowed to have three children, putting an end to the two-child policy that has failed to raise declining birth rates.
The announcement by the Chinese Communist Party highlights the country’s recognition that limiting reproduction – the world’s toughest offender – has ultimately jeopardized the country’s future.
Indeed, the labor pool is shrinking and the population is aging, threatening the industrial strategy that the communist nation has used for decades to become an economic powerhouse, per the New York Times.
Back in 2016, the country relaxed its one-child policy, allowing couples to birth two children.
To appease concerns about the rising cost of education and aging parents, the party also announced Monday that it would improve maternity leave and workplace protections, pledging to make it easier for couples to have more children.
The Chinese birth rate has been plummeting for years, including in 2020 when the number of births dropped to the lowest rate since the Mao era.
The country’s fertility rate now stands at 1.3, well below the replacement rate of 2.1, raising the possibility of a shrinking population over time.
While this announcement is big news for families, many are calling for an end to restrictions all together.
“Opening it up to three children is far from enough,” said Huang Wenzheng, a demography expert with the Center for China and Globalization. “It should be fully liberalized, and giving birth should be strongly encouraged.”
“This should be regarded as a crisis for the survival of the Chinese nation, even beyond the pandemic and other environmental issues,” Huang added. “There should never have been a birth restriction policy in the first place. So it’s not a question of whether this is too late.”
The family restrictions in China date back to 1980, when the one-child policy began. The country started the restrictions in efforts to slow rapid population growth and grow the economy.
The party also said it would increase funding to expand services for the country’s retirees.