China’s decades-long one-child policy is credited with helping China’s economy grow, but many Chinese resent it bitterly, and there already several exceptions to the rule. Now the authorities are studying the possibility of relaxing it for most Chinese.
In many provinces, parents without siblings are already allowed to have more than one child. Other exceptions include ethnic minorities and often couples in rural areas. But now, according to state news agency Xinhua, China’s national health and family planning commission is considering allowing any couple where one parent is an only child to have two children. This would effectively suspend the one-child rule for many more urban couples, the largest group affected by the policy. Some anticipate the reform will be announced in the fall at the National People’s Congress, when key economic reforms are often unveiled.
Chinese media report (link in Chinese) that authorities are also considering allowing all couples to have two children after 2015. If that happens, China’s population would increase by an estimated 9.5 million more babies (link in Chinese) each year over the first five years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a note over the weekend. Over the course of 30 years, the Chinese government says the policy has prevented 400 million births that would have been. So what would more babies mean for the economy?