After decades of mandating one child per family, China’s government caused a demographic and human rights disaster. Far too late, the government began allowing two children per family in 2015. But that’s not enough, and the country is now allowing three children per family.
China said Monday that it would allow all married couples to have as many as three children and provide government support for education and child rearing, a move that comes as Beijing struggles to reverse a worsening demographic situation that presents a host of social and economic challenges.
The shift comes more than five years after Beijing ended its decadeslong “one-child policy” to let all couples have two children, and follows the May 11 release of census figures showing China’s population on the cusp of a historic turning point after years of rapid growth.
The announcement came after a Monday meeting of the Politburo, the Chinese Communist Party’s top decision-making body, chaired by leader Xi Jinping —a signal of concern over the demographic situation at the country’s highest levels. State-run Xinhua News Agency said the change would “improve the country’s population structure, actively implement the national strategy to respond to the aging population, and maintain the country’s demographic advantage.”
Traditionally, such decisions have come out of broader Communist Party policy conferences. Some demographers had expected a loosening or even a lifting of birth policies at the end of the year at a roughly annual gathering of the top few hundred party officials.
“It’s unprecedented,” said Yi Fuxian, a U.S.-based researcher and longtime critic of China’s population policies. “It signals how concerned Xi Jinping is.”
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