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China to allows couples to have three children to address rising population age
31 May 2021, 09:54 | Updated: 31 May 2021, 09:56
China's ruling Communist Party will ease birth limits to allow all couples to have three children instead of two in response to the population's rising age, a state news agency said.
The announcement follows census data that showed China's working age population shrank over the past decade while the number of people older than 65 rose, adding to strain on the economy and society.
The ruling party has enforced birth limits since 1980 to restrain population growth but worries the number of working age people is falling too fast.
A meeting of the ruling party's Politburo decided "China will introduce major policies and measures to actively deal with the ageing population", the Xinhua News Agency said.
Party leaders "pointed out that further optimising the fertility policy, implementing the policy of one couple can have three children and supporting measures are conducive to improving China's population structure", the report said.
Restrictions that limited most couples to one child were eased in 2015 to allow all to have two.
But after a brief rise the following year, the number of births has declined.
Couples say they are put off by the cost of having children, disruption to jobs and the need to look after their own parents.
The share of working age people aged between 15 and 59 in the population fell to 63.3% last year from 70.1% a decade earlier, according to the census data.
The group aged 65 and older grew to 13.5% from 8.9%.
The 12 million births reported last year were down nearly one fifth from 2019.
About 40% were second children, down from 50% in 2017, according to Ning Jizhe, a statistics official who announced the data on May 11.