China’s top decision-making body said Monday the government would ease its birth-control policy to allow all couples in the country to have three children, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The move is the latest measure aimed at tackling China’s aging population after Beijing relaxed its birth policy to let couples have up to two children in 2015. The announcement comes just weeks after a once-in-a-decade census showed China’s population on the cusp of a historic turning point after decades of rapid growth.
The Communist Party’s Politburo said after a meeting Monday chaired by leader Xi Jinping that it would offer more equitable educational resources and reduce educational expenditures for families—widely seen by experts as factors holding back many young couples from having more children.
The Politburo also pledged to improve the nation’s maternity-leave policies, enhance its tax and housing policies and better protect the rights of female workers in a bid to encourage couples to have more babies.
The number of births in China stood at 12 million in 2020, an 18% drop from a year earlier and the fourth straight year of declining births, following an increase in 2016. The data, released in this month’s government census, was seen as a major factor in pushing Beijing to further relax its birth restrictions.
The census also showed a sharp rise in the percentage of Chinese aged 60 and above, to 18.7% of the population as of the end of 2020, up from 13.3% in 2010. The portion of Chinese citizens aged between 15 and 59, representing the size of its working population, stood at 63.35% in 2020, down from 70.1% in 2010.
The Politburo also said the government would gradually raise the national retirement age, without elaborating.