Demographics are destiny, and China has taken note. Amid dire forecasts over the nation’s declining population, China has revised its population control program to permit couples to have up to three children.
China’s declining birthrates have had a significant impact on the country’s army, according to the South China Morning Post, which reported that the army has been forced to adjust its requirements for conscription just to fill out its ranks. The People’s Liberation Army lowered height requirements for both men and women, and lowered fitness requirements allowing for overweight candidates to sign up, among other changes.
On Monday, members of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee approved the change, reports the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“China will support couples that wish to have a third child, according to a meeting of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of China Central Committee held on Monday,” Xinhua News Agency reported. “Implementing the policy and its relevant supporting measures will help improve China’s population structure, actively respond to the aging population, and preserve the country’s human resource advantages.”
The move was made following the release of China’s yearly census, released in May, which revealed that population growth has fallen to its lowest level since the 1960s. The Washington Post reported that China’s yearly population growth was only 0.53 per cent over the past ten years. The country has struggled with low fertility rates, with only 1.3 births per woman. Only 12 million babies were born in China in 2020 — a significant decline from the 18 million born in 2016.
Despite the changed policy, many Chinese couples are actively refusing to have kids entirely. The BBC reported on women in Beijing expressing that they were not planning to have children and knew many others who did not.
Under the rule of former premier Deng Xiaoping, China initially implemented the program to control the size of the Asian country’s then-rapidly growing population in the 1970s, out of concerns over resource scarcity. China has revised the program multiple times since the ‘80s, with more than half of all parents having two children.
The limit, first implemented under the “one-child policy,” existed between 1979 to 2015.
Despite previous changes to the policy, China has struggled with declining birth rates as its once impoverished citizenry has seen a massive increase in income and improved living standards.