China's government announced dozens of reforms Friday, including an easing of its decades-old one-child policy. But experts say the new relaxation may not result in the baby boom the country is seeking.
On Friday, China announced that for the first time since 1979, couples with one partner who has no siblings can now have two children. (Via CNN)
Previously, to have more than one child, both parents had to be an only child. There were also exceptions for ethnic minorities and those living in rural areas.
The change will affect between 15-20 million parents who will now be able to have a second child. The former policy is estimated to have prevented more than 400 million Chinese births over the course of 34 years. (Via ABC)
While the one child policy may have solved the concern of overpopulation, it created several new problems including highly controversial forced abortions and what experts call China's 4:2:1 problem.
According to Slate, "The '4:2:1' refers to the painful reality across China that every one adult child today has two parents and four grandparents to care for because filial piety remains a widespread and deeply held ... value."
But experts also say China should expect only a modest increase in birth rates.
"China is much richer than it was, and as any country develops families tend to get smaller — regardless of government policy. And in any case, what was unusual in China during the 1970s has now become the norm." (Via Al Jazeera)
According to The Wall Street Journal, the easing of the policy may result in an "initial baby miniboom" of a few more million additional births in the coming years.
But "Demographers and analysts ... agree ... [t]he increase in births will be small compared with China's large and aging population of roughly 1.35 billion, and the labor force won't grow as a result for at least two decades."
China is the world's second largest economy, and last year marked the first time China's labor force shrank. The government announced earlier this year the country's retirement age will rise.