Come January 1, 2016 citizens of China can have two children. Finally, the Communist State has ended a more than three-decade-old policy that deprived millions of its citizens of the joy of having a second child.
With the signing of a bill into law on Sunday, China ended the world’s only one-child policy officially signed as a law on September 25, 1980, which has been both controversial and beneficial – to some extent – for the Asian giant, but has now become the cause of a demographic problem.
The new legislation was passed during a session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which governs the country’s laws, held last week from Monday to Sunday.
According to the revised Law on Population and Family Planning, “The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children.”
Poster emphasizing China’s one-child Policy. Alain Le Garsmeur/CORBIS
This year in October Beijing had hinted at doing away with the controversial policy that has given rise to an ageing population, unfit for future economic growth. In 2013, China had allowed couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child
. When news of the planned change to the law broke in October, the ruling Communist Party issued the following statement:
“To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development.”
In fact, in October, the country’s Government had stated that the redaction of the policy is a “proactive response to the issue of an ageing population”.
The policy, which was introduced in a phase starting in the late 1970s, has been able to check a very rapid growth rate but despite that China remains the world’s most populated country with a population of approximately 1.4 billion as per 2015 estimates.
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
This new decision will affect 100 million people across the country.
According to Chinese government data, with 400 million people over the age of 60 the country would be home to the highest number of elderly population on the planet in the next 15 years if the new policy was not introduced.
What the removal of China’s one-child policy means in terms of population growth.
Old people need more social services and contribute less to the growth of an economy. It is precisely because of this reason that China has done away with the archaic and much-criticised one-child policy.
The one-child policy had other effects too. It skewed the sex ration of the country, with parents preferring male children resulting in around 4 per cent more males than females in China.
Another problem was that there are many undocumented children. They are in fact second births that happened during this period and went undocumented. Those ‘ghost children
‘ reportedly number anywhere from some thousands to millions.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
The change is likely to add 23 million more to the population. That could be good for China, where the economic growth rate is almost stalling but ambitions of dominating the world are not. A few days ago, Zimbabwe became the first country in the world to adopt Chinese Yuan
as an official currency in what experts see as a clear recognition of Beijing as a global economic power.
But the removal of one-child policy might not bring China back at the top of the population charts, which is certain to be dominated by India in the next decade.
India’s population is set to surpass China’s by 2022
. Even though the growth rate is slowing down, it is still three times that of China’s.
Also, China’s removal of one-child policy does not necessarily mean that all Chinese will give birth to two children. Financial burden
that comes for a large family might be one factor.