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China announces three-child policy, in major policy shift

In 2016, China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy – initially imposed to halt a population explosion – with a two-child limit.

Children play at a waterfront in Shekou area of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China March 15, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

China announced on Monday that each couple would be permitted to have up to three children, a major policy shift from the existing limit of two children after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world’s most populous country.

The change was approved during a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

In 2016, China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy – initially imposed to halt a population explosion – with a two-child limit, which failed to result in a sustained surge in births as the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities deterred many couples from starting families.

Early this month, China’s once-in-a-decade census showed that the population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s, with data showing a fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman for 2020 alone, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy.

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