China’s ruling Communist Party said Monday it will ease birth limits to allow all couples to have three children instead of two.
It’s aimed at combating the rapid aging of its overall population, which is straining the economy and society.
The ruling party has enforced birth limits since 1980 to control population growth, but worries the number of working-age people is falling too fast while the share over age 65 is rising.
That threatens to disrupt its ambitions to transform China into a prosperous consumer society and global technology leader.
A ruling party meeting led by President Xi Jinping decided to introduce “measures to actively respond to the aging of the population,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.
They agreed that “implementing the policy that a couple can have three children” would be beneficial.
Leaders also agreed China needs to raise its retirement age to keep more people in the workforce and improve pension and health services, Xinhua said.
In 2015 China allowed couples to legally have two children after a long one-child policy but the total number of births fell further, suggesting rule changes on their own have had little impact on the trend.