China has decided to scrap its decades-old one child policy, according to a Communist Party communique announced by state media today. Xinhua News reported that every couple would now be allowed to have two children.
The one-child policy was first implemented in 1979 as a method of curbing population growth, though the rules have been relaxed in recent years, and certain regions and ethnic groups were exempt. The Communist Party believe it has prevented 400 million births across the past three decades.
The policy meant that boys — seen as more likely to provide for parents in old age — were long prioritized, leading to reports of baby girls being killed after birth or aborted. This has led to a skewed gender ratio, and estimates show that males could now outnumber females in China by more than 60 million.
The effects of the policy also mean that China's population of 1.3 billion is rapidly aging. By 2050, more than a quarter of citizens will be over 65 years old, presenting an unprecedented challenge for the country's youth.
The one-child policy was partially eased in 2013, when parents who were both only children themselves were told they could apply have a second baby.
Today's announcement comes as China's Communist Party is meeting to discuss a five-year-plan for the Asian country's social and economic development.
It also comes several days after after the party released a catchy music video announcing the 13th five-year plan, which targets "medium-high economic growth," in song.
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