On Monday, China announced that it was putting an end to its two-child policy, allowing all couples to have up to three children.
The move was made by the Chinese Communist Party in an effort to address concerns regarding the rapidly aging population, the New York Times reports. China’s notoriously strict one-child policy was first implemented in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s as part of a population planning program, although there were a number of notable exceptions to the rule. The policy has come under heavy scrutiny in past, especially in regards to tactics the country used which included forced abortions or sterilizations. It was later changed to a two-child policy in 2016 to encourage an upsurge in births.
As per the Guardian, China’s fertility rate is currently 1.3, which is considered below the level necessary to maintain a stable population. Reports from earlier this month indicated that China’s latest once-a-decade census showed the population growth rate had declined from the census a decade ago, from 2000 to 2010. Signs point to other factors in the decrease in population growth rate, including an increased cost of living, late marriages, and a perceived lack of social mobility.
It’s not immediately clear when the three-child policy will officially come into effect, although the CCP has admitted there’s more work to be done to raise birth rates. There are currently plans to provide more support to families, although what that might entail was not elaborated on.
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, has criticized the limit in a statement. “Governments have no business regulating how many children people have. Under this new policy, couples in China could still be penalized for their decisions around childbirth," said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International's China team. "China should respect people’s life choices and end any invasive and punitive controls over people’s family planning decisions."