China passes three-child policy into law

Chinese officials claim the one-child policy implemented for over three decades has prevented over 400 million births.

Updated - August 21, 2021 12:05 pm IST

Published - August 20, 2021 11:27 am IST - Beijing

Photo used for representation purpose only. File

Photo used for representation purpose only. File

China’s legislature on Friday formally amended the country’s family planning rules to allow couples to have three children , also announcing a number of policy measures aimed at boosting declining birth rates.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or Parliament, passed an amendment to the Population and Family Planning Law, state media said, adding that the amended law calls on the authorities to "take supportive measures, including those in finances, taxes, insurance, education, housing and employment, to reduce families' burdens as well as the cost of raising and educating children.”

The ruling Communist Party announced in May that couples in China would for the first time be allowed to have a third child in a relaxation of family planning rules. In 2016, a “two-child policy” was introduced that largely failed to boost birth rates.

China’s regulators in recent weeks have taken drastic measures to reduce education costs - cited in many surveys as a main reason why many couples prefer to have only one child - including by overhauling the booming private education industry, which may be ordered to go non-profit according to reports in the Chinese press.

The changes come in the wake of China’s once-in-ten year population census that recorded rapidly declining birth rates over the past decade. The National Bureau of Statistics said on May 11 that 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961.

Biggest Challenge

The census said China’s population was 1.41 billion in 2020, an increase of 72 million since the last census in 2010. The census recorded 264 million in the age group of 60 and over, up 5.44% since 2010 and accounting for 18.70% of the population. Those in the 15-59 age group were 894 million persons, down by 6.79% since 2010 and accounting for 63.35% of the population. China’s workforce in the 15-59 age bracket peaked at 925 million in 2011, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said previously. That number was down to 894 million in this census and would drop to 700 million by 2050.

Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalisation, in Beijing, told China Global Television Network (CGTN), an official broadcaster, following the release of the census that the ageing crisis “might be the biggest challenge the Chinese nation faces in the next century.”

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