China announced on Monday that it would allow all couples to have up to three children as it grapples with an ageing population.
The shift comes just three weeks after data showed decline in the country’s population growth, increasing fears about a looming demographic crisis in the nation of 1.4 billion.
All couples have been allowed to have two children since 2016, when the government loosened its decades-old one-child policy. But after a rise in the number of births in 2016, the number of newborns has fallen every year since.
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Chinese say they are put off by the high costs of bringing up a child, as well as the rising costs of housing, healthcare and education. Pregnant women complain that employers discriminate against them, including demoting them, forcing them to resign or reducing their salary.
Officials worry about a drop in marriages, a rise in divorces, and a continuing fall in the number of women of childbearing age in China.
The three-child policy change was approved during a Communist Party Politburo meeting on Monday chaired by President Xi Jinping, the official Xinhua News Agency announced.
“China will introduce major policies and measures to actively deal with the ageing population,” it said.