In an announcement made on Friday, China leaders decided they would gradually start easing up on its decades old, one child policy.
The new law states that parents can have two children if either parent was an only child. The new law represents a significant change in China’s future economy and population.
The one child policy was first introduced in 1970 when China’s population started growing at an uncontrollable rate. From 1949 to 1976, China’s population grew by 400 million people.
“In the 1980s, when the one-child policy was implemented, it was needed to stop the rapid population growth and increase per-capita income,” said Zhou Haiwang, an expert in population studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. “Now, 30 years later, it has achieved that goal. Now it is time to increase the fertility rate to benefit our society in the long term,” Zhou said.
Not only has the policy led to an extreme gender imbalance, but it has also made the leaders of the country worry about a labor shortage in the future. Nearly 118 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2012.
“There’s an economic reason (behind the move), because China now starts to worry that in 20 years or even less, there will be a labor shortage,” said Cheng Li, the director of research and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center in Washington, D.C.
Several experts believe the policy will be fade completely in the coming years, including Wang Feng, a Chinese population expert and the director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy in Beijing.
“I would not be surprised if a year from now, we’re going to see more and even a complete abandonment of the policy,” said Feng. “The government is testing the waters right now. They know that the policy will have to be gone. The policy serves nobody’s interests,” he said.
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