China will allow all couples to have three children and strengthen policy support to deal with the rapidly increasing aging population, according to a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Monday.
The move, which comes five years after China introduced the “two-child policy”, further eases the family planning policy and is expected to help raise the declining fertility rate and thus counterbalance the effects of the aging population.
The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) says the family planning policy should be optimized and made more inclusive. Which means giving couples more choices to have children, as in the new “three-child policy”, and creating a social environment more conducive for births by introducing other social and economic policies.
More importantly, more favorable industry, tax, social security, housing and transportation policies will go a long way in encouraging women to have more children.
Giving families, as the “basic units of society”, more freedom to have children is key to increasing the fertility rate, and China has been working in this direction. Already, the government is doing more to care for children who are below school-going age by improving the kindergarten infrastructure and establishing effective monitoring and evaluation systems for the healthy growth of the sector.
Besides, the government will continue supporting a balanced development of the family by encouraging parents to share their responsibilities when it comes to caring for their children. It will also better protect female employees’ rights, so they are less reluctant to have more children. The fear of losing their job because of pregnancy often deters women from having more than one child, or prompts them to have no children at all.
In short, the three-child policy is only one of many policies introduced to help raise the fertility rate, and together these policies could produce the desired result.
－YANG GE, ASSOCIATE RESEARCHER AT RESEARCH CENTER ON POPULATION AGING, Chinese ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES