China is now allowing couples to legally have a 3rd child. This is to prevent a potential demographic crisis that could harm its global ambitions of greater prosperity.

Friday’s ceremonial legislature amended the Population and Family Planning Law. This was part of a decade-long effort by Communist Party leaders to control the size of families according to political directives. This is six years after the previous change.

China had a strict policy of limiting couples to one child starting in the 1980s. This was enforced by threats of losing their jobs or fines. This led to abuses like forced abortions. Parents killing baby girls to satisfy their sexual preference led to an enormous imbalance in the sex ratio.

Officials acknowledged the dire consequences of the declining birthrate and relaxed the rules for two children in 2015. China is likely to age before it can become wealthy, which is the overwhelming fear.

China has long lauded its one-child policy for preventing an additional 400 million births in the country with the highest population. This saves resources and drives economic growth.

China’s birthrate, which is similar to South Korea’s, Thailand’s, and other Asian economies, was already falling before the one child rule. According to the World Bank, the average number of children per mom fell from more than six in 1960 to less than three by 1980.

The number of people working in China has declined over the last decade, and the population has not grown. This adds to the strains that are associated with an aging society. The population grew to 1.411billion people in the last decade, an increase of 72 million since 2010.

Statistics show that 12 million babies were born in 2018, which is 18% less than the 14.6 million for 2019.

Chinese aged over 60, which number 264 millions, made up 18.7% of the country’s total population in 2020. This is 5.44 percentage points more than it was in 2010. The working-age population dropped to 63.3% from 70.1% a decade earlier.

Although the number of births saw a temporary increase due to the introduction of the two-child rule, the effects quickly wore off. Total births continued to decline as many women opted against having children.

Japan, Germany, and other wealthy countries are all facing the same problem of having fewer workers to care for aging populations. They can still make investments in technology, factories and other foreign assets. China, however, is a middle-income country that has labor-intensive farming and manufacturing.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress cancelled the levying of fines for violating earlier restrictions at its session on Friday and demanded additional parental leave as well as childcare resources. The amendment stated that new measures should be taken in finance, taxation and schooling to “assist families with their burden.”

It also aims to end discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace, which is considered to be one of the main disincentives to having more children.

Despite the high level of female representation in the labour force, women with children are still very underrepresented at higher levels. They hold only 8.4% of the leadership positions at both the provincial and central levels. Only 11% of the young party leaders who will be taking the reins over the next decades are women.