PEKING – Chinese lawmakers officially approved on Sunday a Communist Party edict ending of China’s “one-child” policy, which will be effective on January 1, 2016.
The Law on Population and Family Planning, approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, now states that couples are allowed to have two children. The new policy will affect 100 million couples, according to Lu Jiehua, sociologist at Peking University.
In October, the Communist Party announced that the law that limited the majority of couples to just one child would be discontinued in order to “improve the balanced development of (China’s) population”.
“China will fully implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’ in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population”, stated the Communist Party in October.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency informed that the flexibility of the family planning policy now applied to every couple is expected to help solve the problem of an aging population and to improve the Chinese economy in the long term. The agency made known last year that there were already 212 million people over 60, around 15.5% of China’s population.
The “one-child” policy began in 1980 with the goal of reducing the burden of resources caused by the quickly expanding population in the country. Some flexibility was allowed in rural areas. The strict rule led to 400 million fewer births and helped millions raise its economical status due to the lighter demand on resources. Nevertheless, some experts believe China’s birthrate would have fallen without the policy because more women have been pushed into the workforce as a consequence of the country’s economic development and the improvement of education levels.
Restrictions started dropping in 2013, when the state authorized couples to have two children only if one of the parents was a single child. After the October announcement, William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International, warned in a statement that the new policy was “not enough”, since couples with two children could still be victims of intrusive forms of contraception and even mandatory abortions. This warning comes after decades of abuses when the state’s propaganda was not effective.