China is planning to reverse a policy that restricts the number of children people can have.
According to The Independent, the change would end a long-standing policy.
The policy went into effect in 1979 and restricts people to one child. In 2016, the government changed the policy to two children.
The Chinese government claims the policies have prevented some 400 million births.
Critics, however, say that claim is inaccurate.
Bloomberg said the policy could come as soon as this year, or by 2019.
There has been no official confirmation or comment from China’s National Health Commission on the new policy, but Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang reviewed a feasibility in April that showed there would be some “limited” economic gains from lifting child limits.
The limits were initially imposed to help with the government’s economy and shortages, but according to the state-run newspaper Xinhua the food shortages of the 1970s and 1980s are “history.”
But Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, says economics may still be a factor for families, even with the policy change.
“People are not having children in China because they cannot afford them,” he said. “That’s not going to change whether you have a one-child policy, a two-child policy or a 200-child policy.”
Most statisticians argue that China’s birth rate was already falling when the change was made from one child to two, so it’s unclear just how impactful that change was to the country.
“Where the one-child policy did have an impact was on the rights of individuals who were poor and couldn’t just pay [the fine for having more children],” said Prof Tsang. Eliminating the policy, he said, is “a step in the right direction.”
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Publication date: May 24, 2018