China eases one-child policy

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A relaxation of China’s one-child policy comes into effect on Saturday.

It means couples where one parent is an only-child will be allowed to have two kids. In the past, this was only allowed for couples where both parents were only-children.

The one-child policy was introduced in 1979.

It had been strictly enforced and created a gender imbalance after couples practiced selective abortions so they could have a boy rather than a girl.

The relaxing of the rules has not been done for ideological reasons, but economic ones. With less children being born in the last three decades, China’s workforce shrank by three million last year and the shortage is predicted to be 140 million by 2030.

Relaxing the one-child policy could mean the birth of an extra 9.5 million children a year.

The workforce needs to grow to keep up with China’s ageing population. By 2050, a quarter of the population are expected to be over the age of 65.

It will be up to local authorities how they implement the relaxed law.

The change to the one-child policy is one of a number of reforms approved by the Politburo and passed by parliament on Saturday.

There will also be an end to ‘labour camps’ where petty criminals could be sent for up to four years by police without facing a trial. Critics say political activists are often sent to the camps.

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