After 35 years of having its infamous one-child policy, China is finally allowing its citizens to have two children. The decision comes after a four-day meeting in Beijing concerning the plan for China’s next five years. The policy has been changed due to growing fears of an aging population.
The one-child policy was introduced in 1980 as a way to combat China’s massive population growth and overpopulation. Chinese authorities credit this policy as being one of the key factors to China’s economic boom. The policy restricted most couples to having a single child and was often brutally enforced.
However, as the current workforce ages and begins to retire, there is a growing fear that there will not be enough new people entering the workforce to replace them. The shrinking workforce is not the only problem caused by the policy. There is a huge gender imbalance, as males are favored over female children, resulting in a limited choice in potential marriage partners and fewer marriages all together.
The policy was reformed in 2013, allowing some urban couples to have a second child though relatively few people have taken advantage of the opportunity.
The Communist leadership met in Beijing to discuss how to get the country’s slowing economy back on track. In recent years, the Communist leadership has been struggling with structural inefficiencies and irrelevant policies left over from the years before China embraced the market economy.
The conference was known as the fifth plenum and was held to discuss the next 5-Year Plan for China. It is the 13th such conference since the People’s Republic of China was created in 1949. The policies created at the fifth plenum will officially be approved and go into effect next year.
China has enjoyed an economic boom for several decades following its decision to embrace market economics in the late 1970s. However, in recent years, economic growth has been slowing down.
Economists warn that China will embrace liberalization even more if they want to avoid economic stagnation and the “middle income trap,” a phenomenon that occurs when developing countries fail to meet their full economic potential.
One thing is for sure; China hopes to continue its trend of economic growth and success. At the committee meeting, the Communist Party reiterated its goal to double China’s 2010 GDP by 2020. The Party also hopes to achieve a “moderately prosperous society” by the 100th anniversary of the founding of China’s Communist Party.