China's one-child policy may change in 2013, report says


Guangdong, in southern China, will ease up on the one-child policy, allowing couples where one parent is an only child to have two children.


Frederic J. Brown

Citing an aging population and increasing gender gap, China is likely to review and potentially change its one-child policy in the new year, the China Daily reported today.

That country’s Population, Resources and Environment Committee submitted proposals that, most notably, suggest allowing “urban” parents to have a second child.

Currently, only parents who were themselves only-children are permitted to have two offspring.

“I think the government will take action next year and the changes are inevitable given the increasingly complicated population problems ranging from ageing to a massive migrant population, and the huge gender gap,” Peking University sociology Prof. Lu Jiehua, a family planning commission member, told China Daily.

The report comes on the heels of new President Hu Jintao’s speech earlier this month that suggested loosening restrictions, Reuters reported.

China is home to 1.34 billion people, and has grappled with the unpopular one-child policy since it was implemented in 1979.

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The policy has led to many couples aborting girls, which created a significant gap in size between populations of men and women.

While commonly known as a one-child policy, however, the rules in China are more complex. Rural families, for example, are allowed a second child if their first is a girl.

In late October, China’s Development Research Foundation suggested reforming the policy and phasing in two-child limits beginning in 2015.

It suggested a national two-child policy by 2020, according to USA Today.

Given that the foundation is government controlled, changes appear “inevitable,” assistant sociology professor Cai Yong told USA Today.

“That tells us at least that policy change is inevitable, it's coming,” said Cai, a visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai.

China’s greying population is also a challenge to its economic prowess. Al Jazeera reported earlier this month that one-third of China’s population will be at least 60 years old by 2053. It has nearly 200 million senior citizens now.

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