The Chinese government ruled Sunday to allow all couples to have two children beginning next year. The move is a deviation from decades of a one-child policy that spurred a massive wave of international adoptions.
Under the current law, couples in China who break the family planning laws face losing their jobs and being fined. Many women are forced to have abortions. The new policy aims to change that.
"The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children," according to the newly revised Law on Population and Family Planning.
In a congressional meeting Sunday, Chinese lawmakers approved the new birth policy, which will take effect Jan. 1, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Top Communist Party leaders had previously approved the new policy aimed at fixing the country's demographic problems. Experts have for years said China's dwindling population would have an adverse economic impact in the future.
China has the world's largest population at 1.37 billion, but its working-age population is shrinking. The number of Chinese over the age of 65 will jump 85 percent to 243 million by 2030, up from 131 million this year, according to U.N. estimates.
Health experts told the Wall Street Journal that the new policy is not expected to create a baby boom because it is still expensive to have a lot of children in China.
"To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development," the ruling Communist Party said in a statement in October. "China will fully implement the policy of 'one couple, two children' in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population."