Researchers aren’t surprised by yesterday’s announcement that China’s government will abandon its longstanding one-child policy. And although demographers predict the new two-baby allowance will have just a modest near-term impact on the nation’s demographics, they say it could bring social and political benefits.
China’s government will be “actively taking steps to counter the aging of the population,” the Xinhua state news agency reported Thursday in announcing the move, which followed discussions among Communist Party leaders about China’s forthcoming 5-year development plan. Demographers had long urged the change, pointing to China’s rapidly aging population, along with a surplus of tens of millions of males caused by sex-selective abortion.
The announcement is “long overdue,” wrote Yong Cai, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in an email. “This is probably the easiest reform program that the Chinese Communist Party could push out—with virtually no political risk, but with enormous social benefits.”