China is worried about its declining birth rate and its ballooning elderly population. It hopes to counter these with its new three-child policy.
Five years after China relaxed its controversial one-child policy to two kids per couple, the most populous nation in the world has now allowed married couples to have up to three children. The decision comes days after China’s census data showed its population growth slipped to its slowest since the 1950s.
Why China Relaxed its Policy
According to Xinhua news agency, the latest decision will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country's population structure, fulfilling the country's strategy of actively coping with an ageing population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources."
According to a report in The New York Times, births in China have fallen for four consecutive years, including in 2020, when the number of babies born dropped to the lowest since the Mao Zedong era. The report adds that China's total fertility rate stands at 1.3, well below the replacement rate of 2.1, raising the concern of a shrinking population over time.
Will Three be Enough
Despite the recent lifting of curbs on reproductive rights, many experts wonder if it will be enough for China to avert an impending demographic crisis.
In 2016, the country had allowed two kids per married couple but the decision did not translate into a significant uptick in the birth rate of the country. Observers cited lack of day care, long work hours, anxiety over the rising cost of education and concerns about supporting ageing parents as the major causes behind married couples shying away from having more than one kid.
To assuage these concerns, the ruling Communist Party on May 31 suggested that it would "improve maternity leave and workplace protections" to encourage couples to have more children.
Notably, China’s family planning restrictions date back to 1980 when the then leader Deng Xiaoping first imposed the “one-child” policy to decelerate population growth.
(Edited by : Shoma)