Faced with a rapidly-aging population and slower growth, China has announced it will end its controversial one-child policy. Bloomberg reports:
The party’s Central Committee approved plans to allow all couples to have two children, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday, citing a communique released at the end of a four-day party policy meeting in Beijing. The move, which had been expected, comes after a previous effort to relax the policy fell well short of the goal of boosting births by 2 million a year.
“It shows the party wants to take action as soon as possible, and shows there is no time to delay for China to modify its population policy,” said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Governance. “They couldn’t wait for the legislation to pass next year. The leaders want the new policy now.”
However, the one-child policy may be more ingrained in the culture than the Central Committee would like. When Beijing’s last effort to raise the birth rate failed, we wrote, “Human beings aren’t machines that can be adjusted in ideal ways every few years to ensure some sort of maximal societal utility.” It may be that even if they are allowed to have multiple children, Chinese parents will still choose to have only one.