'Change China's one-child policy to avert demographic crisis'

'Change China's one-child policy to avert demographic crisis'

As China headed for once-in-a- decade leadership change, pressure mounted on the ruling Communist Party to change its controversial three-decade-old one-child policy, blamed for the looming demographic crisis.

China, world's most populous country, should consider adjusting its family planning policy, as structural problems have overtaken excessive growth as the most significant population-related problem, an official think-tank has said in a daring proposal.

Population is heading for negative growth and an ultra-low fertility rate, as well as faces issues related to aging, gender imbalances, urbanization, an expanding shortage of migrant workers and an only-child generation, said a report by China Development Research Foundation.

The report said the government should gradually loosen the one-child policy over the next three years in regions where family planning has been strictly implemented. By 2020, there will be no need to continue birth planning, as people will make more rational decisions on birth issues, it said.

The one-child policy was introduced around 1980 by the Communist Party to rein in China's surging population by encouraging late marriages and pregnancies, as well as limiting urban couples to one child and rural couples to two.

Officials claim that the policy had prevented about 400 million births, pegging the country's population to about 1.3 billion.

The report advocating a change in one-child policy came ahead of November 8 Congress of the Communist Party to select new leaders to rule the country for the next ten years.

Officials say loosening of the one-child policy allowing people to have two kids could top the agenda of the new leaders. A number of provinces, including Shanghai already started loosing the policy.

The report said as a result of the one-child policy, annual growth rate of the population has declined, slowing to 0.57 per cent in the first decade of the 21st century, down from 1.07 per cent in the previous ten years.

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