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Following decades of a strict one-child policy, Chinese families will now be allowed to have two children per government guidelines. Communist authorities made the announcement on Thursday, stating the new policy was intended to improve the country's economic outlook. China's population is graying rapidly, while the labor force is shrinking. Some critics are saying the liberalization policy may be too little, too late for China.
The policy went into effect in the 1970s, when China's population was growing extremely rapidly. Although officials maintained this was the best way to curb overpopulation, it may have hurt China's economy more than help it. As reported by Reuters, China's working population fell for the first time in 2012. Economic forecasts predict that, by 2050, one in three Chinese people will be at least 60 years old. This touches on one of the main criticisms of the one-child policy: while the older generation grows, the younger one shrinks and must take in and care for their parents and grandparents.
Still, critics say the shift in policy will not solve the country's economic woes. In 2013, officials made an exception to the one-child policy, allowing parents who were only children themselves to have a second child. Even then, though, few parents applied for this policy, citing the high cost of raising a family. Since the 1970s, China has become a much more prosperous country and women are taking advantage of more economic opportunities outside the home.
China media: Two-child policy? (bbc.com)
"Papers round on a proposal that couples should have no fewer than two children to deal with China's ageing population problem."
Population, Policy, and Politics: How Will History Judge China's One-Child Policy? (dragonreport.com)
"One of the main puzzles of modern population and social history is why, among all countries confronting rapid population growth in the second half of the twentieth century, China chose to adopt an extreme measure of birth control known as the one-child policy."
Forcing a woman to have an abortion at eight months: Welcome to 21st century China (telegraph.co.uk)
"In a case that has sent shockwaves through the western world, a heavily pregnant women in south China has revealed she's being pressured into a late-term abortion by local officials."
More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing (nybooks.com)
"It is often said that women make up a majority of the world's population."