China is making a major change in how its citizens can form a family. Monday, the Chinese Communist Party said it would allow married couples to have as many as three children to combat the country’s aging population.
Got that? Couples in China are now allowed to have a third child.
The change comes five years after Beijing ended its infamous “one-child policy” and began allowing couples to keep a second child.
State-run, Xi Jinping-approved Xinhua News Agency says the new policy will “improve the country’s population structure, actively implement the national strategy to respond to the aging population, and maintain the country’s demographic advantage.”
China is banking that the relaxed restriction will solve its demographic concerns, though data projects disappointing results.
A 2017 study, taken two years after China said couples could now have a second child, showed that only half of Chinese couples were willing to have two children. The Wall Street Journal cites a once-in-a-decade census released earlier this month that showed only 12 million babies born in China last year, making it the fourth straight year in which births fell.
At the end of 2020, 18.7% of the Chinese population was aged 60 and above. That’s up from 13.3% in 2010. Meanwhile, Chinese citizens aged between 15 and 59, the working population, fell from 70.1% to 63.35% in the past decade.
Commerzbank’s senior economist Hao Zhou says living costs have deterred Chinese couples from having a second child.
“But who wants to have three kids? Young people [in China] could have two kids at most. The fundamental issue is living costs are too high and life pressures are too huge,” Zhou states.
Since China was unable to address these concerns in 2015 when it raised the number to two, this new policy likely won’t change the game. China, though, is greatly incentivized to find solutions.
China’s aging population is responsible for its shrinking labor force, which experts predict will stunt economic growth and lead to higher inflation globally.
At times, it remains hard to fathom that a world powerhouse is still telling couples how many children they can have. Then there’s the realization that China’s inhumane rules and treatment have come back to haunt the country.