The Chinese Communist Party announced the end of its one-child policy on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. All married Chinese couples are now allowed to have up to two children.
Statistics of the United Nations make it clear why China is changing its policy: China’s population is aging rapidly. China does not have enough young people in the work force to replace the retired population. The UN predicts an increase of the Chinese population over 60-years old from 12.4 percent to 28.1 percent within the next 30 years, according to the U.N. website.
The aging population could form a serious threat to the Chinese economy. The shrinking youth population will cause a decrease in the labor force, raising the average wage and, therefore, decreasing China’s competitiveness in the international labor market, according to an Asia-Pacific news source, The Diplomat. The almost unlimited amount of low-cost laborers, however, has been one of the major driving forces of the Chinese economy.
If the Chinese economy experiences a labor shortage, it is prone to lose its competitiveness to other upcoming economies that still have a booming population, according to The Diplomat. Indonesia and India will probably outrival China in economic growth after 2020, according to analysts at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Since the induction of the one-child policy in 1979 by Deng Xioping, women in China have undergone many chosen and forced abortions by the government, according to The Washington Post. These abortions, alongside instances of female infanticide, have led to an unbalanced boy-girl ratio, since many rural families preferred having a son to a daughter.
Despite the new legislation, many couples will still be hesitant of having two children because of the severe economic pressure of raising a child in China, according to The New York Times.
In 2013, the Chinese government experimented with loosening its child policy. It allowed couples where one of the parents is an only child to have two children. Only 12 percent of these couples applied to have a second child, according to The New York Times.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Diplomat and The United Nations was used in this report.