China To End One-Child Policy

Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty Images.
China is ending its one-child policy after more than three decades.
This story was originally published on October 29, 2015 at 9:15 a.m. It was updated at 3:30 p.m.

For the first time in decades, all couples in China will be lawfully permitted to have more than one child.

The country's state-run news agency reported on Thursday that the Communist Party will put an end to the one-child policy that has been in place since 1979, the BBC reports. All couples will be allowed to have two children under the change.

There were some exemptions to the rule, such as families in rural areas whose firstborn was a girl, some ethnic minorities and, more recently, couples made up of at least one only child, according to the BBC. But for more than a third of the population, the policy meant you could not have a second child without facing major fines or other serious consequences. In some cases, women were forced to have abortions.

The country's aging population has been widely cited as one factor in the change. But it's not clear that the new policy is going to result in a birthing boom.

"I don’t think a lot of parents would act on it because the economic pressure of raising children is very high in China," Mu Guangzong, a professor of demography at Peking University, told The New York Times.

"The birthrate in China is low and its population is aging quickly, so from the policy point of view, it’s a good thing as it will help combat a shortage of labor force in the future. But many parents simply don’t have the economic conditions to raise more children," he added.

On Thursday, many people in China took to social media site Weibo to share their reactions, which were mixed.

"Our generation has it the worst: We have to take care of two elderly parents and raise two kids," one commenter wrote.

"I can't believe I am the lone generation of only children in the history of China. The country owes me a sibling," another person commented.

A poll of 100,000 people conducted by Chinese website Sina showed that results were fairly even as to whether people would take advantage of the policy shift. According to the Sina poll, nearly 40% of participants voted "no" when asked if they would consider having a second child; 31% said "yes," and 29% said it "depends on the situation."
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