China will introduce new measures to encourage more births and address issues associated with its rapidly ageing population and shrinking workforce in its new 2021-2025 “five-year plan”.
China Daily newspaper said on Monday that the Chinese government will offer extensive financial and policy support to encourage couples to have more children.
“More inclusive population policies will be introduced to improve fertility, the quality of the workforce and the structure of the population,” Yuan Xin, vice-president of the China Population Association, told the newspaper.
The measures include introducing more affordable nursery services as well as relaxing the limits on the number of children Chinese couples are allowed to have.
China introduced its controversial “one-child policy” in 1978, saying efforts to reduce poverty and develop the economy were being undermined by rapid population growth, especially in the countryside.
But the world’s most populous nation decided in 2016 to relax restrictions and allow couples to have a second child in a bid to address the rapid increase in the elderly, as well as a dwindling workforce.
Some experts say it should now scrap all limits entirely.
In China, the number of citizens aged 60 or over stood at 254 million at the end of last year, accounting for 18.1 percent of the population. The number is expected to rise to 300 million by 2025 and 400 million by 2035, putting huge pressure on the country’s health and social care system, demographers say.
Meanwhile, based on the current trends, they say the number of people of working age could decline by 200 million by 2050.
Despite the relaxation of the one-child policy in 2016, the number of live births per 1,000 people fell to a record low of 10.48 last year, down from 10.94 in 2018.