China will allow each couple to have three children in a major policy overhaul to address the challenges of its ageing population.

The decision was announced after a Communist Party Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping on Monday.

The statement said major steps were needed to address the deepening problem of the ageing population.

“Birth policies will be further improved. Policy that allows a couple to have three children will be introduced with supporting measures,” it said.

“This will improve the population structure of China.”

Other measures suggested include postponing the retirement age, and targeting marriage and family values education campaigns at youth. Improvements would be made on child care service, maternity leave and child birth insurance, the statement said.

According to the national census conducted at the end of last year, China’s overall population rose to 1.412 billion in 2020, from 1.4 billion a year earlier.

The National Bureaus of Statistics said Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million babies last year, down from 14.65 million in 2019, marking an 18 per cent decline year on year and continuing the descent to a near six-decade low.

China’s fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman, which is below the replacement level of 2.1 needed for a stable population.

The NBS added that the average number of children that a Chinese woman was willing to have last year was 1.8. – (SCMP)


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