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China considers abandoning its two-child policy

A woman rides her scooter with two children on Tuesday in Huaxian county in China's central Henan province. China is reportedly planning to end its two-child policy. The nation had already relaxed its previous one child policy. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

China is considering abandoning its two-child policy as it tries to manage an aging population and falling birth rates, The Guardian reported.

What is the current policy?

China currently limits the number of children each couple is allowed to have to two. This policy itself is a change from China's one-child policy, which lasted from 1979 until 2016. While the policies were an attempt by the government to curb a surging population, they also had the predictable effect of creating an aging populace without enough young workers to support older citizens and a significant gender disparity.

Both of these policies have resulted in forced abortions and sterilizations, as well as sex-selective abortions. With the option of only having one child, many couples opted to have a boy. This resulted in high numbers of baby girls being aborted. In 2016, there were 33.59 million more men than women in the country.

When the policy was revised from one child to two, Chinese parents did not immediately begin having second children in significant numbers. The total number of births for 2017 was 17.2 million, down from 17.9 million the previous year and below the government's initial prediction of 20 million.

When would this new policy take effect?

While the consideration for this policy is official, with China's National People's Congress issuing a statement on Tuesday, the current rules would not be updated until March 2020. It is also not clear if the policy would get rid of caps on the number of children a family can have altogether, or merely raise the cap again to some number higher than two.

The statement from the National People's Congress said that the code "will no longer retain the relevant content of family planning."

The code will also contain guidelines for dealing with workplace sexual harassment. These new rules would put protections in place for victims harassed by someone in authority over them, and would demand that employers work to prevent such incidents from taking place.

One last thing…
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