China have announced the end of its hugely controversial one-child policy today, with official state media confirming that all couples will now be allowed to have two children.
A communique was issued by the ruling Communist Party following a four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the country’s plans for the next five years.
Despite being the world’s second largest economy, there have been growing concerns over China’s ageing population since the one child policy was introduced in 1980.
The radical family planning policy was adopted to reduce the country’s high birth rate.
The policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom.
But after years of strict, sometimes brutal enforcement by a dedicated government commission, China’s population – the world’s largest – is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking.
The concerns led to limited reforms in 2013, including allowing a second child for some couples in urban areas, but relatively few have taken up the opportunity.
The Communist leadership met in Beijing to discuss ways to put the country’s stuttering economy back on a smooth growth path as it struggles with structural inefficiencies and social policies left over from an era before it embraced market reforms.
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