China may end child limits by end of 2018
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China may end child limits by end of 2018

HAVING imposed strict population control policies for decades, China may soon scrap all limitations on the number of children its citizens can have.

First introduced in 1979, China ended its famous one-child policy in 2016 by allowing families to have up to two children. Experts are now predicting that even the two-child policy will be dismantled, reported the state-run Global Times newspaper on Tuesday.

Demographic expert Huang Wenzheng told the Global Times that in the past, China’s ruling Communist Party viewed population as a burden and something that needed to be controlled via family planning, however that “that notion is likely to be overturned”.

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China’s population growth since 1950, including the period during the government’s one-child policy. Source: AFP

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Getting rid of birth limits was “only a matter of time” said Huang. “Population will no longer be regarded as a burden but as precious human resources.”

China’s government argues that the one-child policy helped avert an estimated 400 million births while in place. In recent years, however, it has grown concerned over a declining birth rate.

China saw 17.2 million live births in 2017 down from 17.9 million in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The expense of having children is considered a primary factor, with Peking University’s Liang Jianzhang telling Xinhua that “it costs 20,000 (3,100 U.S. dollars) to 30,000 yuan a year for a family in a big city to raise a child from birth to college, not including the parents’ opportunity cost, time and energy.”

A survey published earlier in 2018 showed 35.9 of Chinese said cost was the main reason for not having a child.

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According to Bloomberg, China’s State Council has now commissioned research on the implications of ending the two-child limit and is discussing replacing it with “independent fertility”, which would allow people to choose how many children they have.

Chinese authorities want to reduce the pace of the country’s aging population and remove a source of international criticism, one source told Bloomberg.

A decision could be made on the matter by the end of 2018.