China To End One-Child Policy

Photo: Zhengyi Xie/REX Shutterstock.
Today, Chinese leaders voted to end the country's controversial one-child policy after 35 years. The ruling, announced following a congressional meeting, paves the way for a two-child policy that will take effect January 1, 2016. Health officials are also looking to make the birth application process easier to navigate. Officials in China announced the plan to fully lift the decades-long policy in October, as Refinery29 previously reported. The vote formalizes the shift ahead of the new year. Concerns over falling birthrates — and an aging population — helped inspire the new policy. The one-child policy was originally intended to keep China's population — the world's largest — in check. With figures now showing that the number of citizens of working age (15 to 64) has declined, demographers have warned that the country is in danger of having a labor shortage. The two-child policy will presumably turn the tide, with some 100 million couples now able to add a second child to their family. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the prohibitive cost of raising a child may still deter couples from taking advantage of the new law. Points have also been raised about whether the policy will increase the level of sexual discrimination faced by working women, who are now entitled to a second stretch of maternity leave.

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