China is considering easing of its strict “one-child” family planning policy as the increasingly graying population poses demographic challenges to the most populous country in the world, according to a former member of the National Family Planning Commission.
Apparently, advisory bodies had submitted proposals for relaxing the family planning norms to the government, the China Daily reported quoting Zhang Weiqing, the former head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
The proposed changes will allow the urban couples with siblings to have two children. The existing norms allow parents without siblings to go in for a second child.
Though the policy holds good in rural areas as well, poor implementation has led to many couples having two children.
Zhang said the policy would first be implemented in more economically productive areas, which are facing severe “demographic challenges from a graying population and a large influx of migrant workers,” the paper reported.
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"China's population policy has always taken into account demographic changes but any fine-tuning to the policy should be gradual and consider the situation in different areas," the China Daily cited Zhang as saying.
Chinese population experts have been advocating relaxation in the one-child policy, warning the government of dangers of an aging society and the demographic challenges associated with it.
China adopted the one-child policy in 1979 to reign in its high population growth. Earlier, two children were preferred per family. The implementation of the rule was slightly relaxed after 1984 in rural areas. However, it was strictly followed in urban centers.
The strict single child norm has created a rapidly aging population, which demographers warn will be detrimental to the future economic competitiveness of the country. Demographers say that the policy has created an imbalance in the male-female ratio in the country, among other social issues that arise from forced abortions. The current population of China stands at 1.4 billion.
Zhang who now serves as director of the Population, Resources and Environment Committee said the policy change would not lead to any sharp rise in population and a fertility rate of at least 1.8 was ideal for the country. The current national fertility rate in China is 1.7 percent.