The Chinese government has announced that it will allow couples to have up to three children as part of policies to address the country’s aging population.
The decision was announced on Monday after a Communist Party Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
The party in a statement said that the three-child policy will be introduced with unspecified “supporting measures” and this will improve the “population structure” of the country.
This decision though not clear when the change would take effect comes just three weeks after Beijing published its 2020 census, which showed China’s population was growing at its slowest rate in decades.
The census showed that around 12 million babies were born last year, a significant decrease from 18 million in 2016, and the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s.
China had in October 2015 replaced its decades-old child policy with a two-child policy, but some researchers suggested that the change would have only a marginal effect on the greying of the population if no other action were taken.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the population rose by just 5.38% over the past decade, the slowest growth rate since at least the 1960s.
The announcement by the ruling Communist Party represents an acknowledgment that its limits on reproduction has jeopardized the country’s future as the labor pool is shrinking and the population is graying, threatening the industrial strategy that China has used for decades to emerge from poverty to become an economic powerhouse.