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Graphic shows number of births by year and falling Chinese fertility rate.


China introduces three-child policy

By Duncan Mil

June 1, 2021 - After decades of limiting most families to just one child, China’s decision-making Politburo is allowing couples to have up to three children after data showed a dramatic decline in births.

The policy change was reportedly approved during a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping on Monday (May 31), six years after Xi scrapped the one-child policy introduced by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979.

Ultimately, China ended its one-child policy in 2015 for demographical reasons: it realized that too many Chinese were heading into retirement. The nation’s population had too few young people entering the labour force to provide for the older population’s retirement healthcare and continued economic growth.

The number of newborns in 2016 -- the year following the end of the one-child policy -- surged by more than one million to 17.9 million. However, births dropped to 12 million in 2020, the lowest since the great famine of 1959-61, which killed an estimated 15-30 million people.

The average number of births per woman fell to 1.3 in 2020, far below the 2.1 needed for a steady population replacement.

Xi’s government is looking to gradually lift the retirement age from the current level of 60 years for men and 50 for women and plans for 50 million people to move permanently from rural to urban areas to take up service and manufacturing jobs in the next five years.

PUBLISHED: 01/06/2021; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press