Chinese officials are considering lifting all restrictions on the number of children parents can have by 2025, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The government may begin the process by lifting birth restrictions in provinces where the birthrate is lowest, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal. Others familiar with the deliberations said China may enact policies that explicitly encourage couples to have children.
Government researchers in China’s northeast Jilin Province said in February that officials must encourage childbirth.
“Ending birth restrictions is not enough to reverse the trend of negative population growth in our province,” the researchers wrote. “It is also necessary to introduce policies to encourage childbirth based on real-world conditions.”
The potential move is intended to counter the effects of China’s aging population. Premier Xi Jinping told Communist Party leaders that responding to the aging of China’s population is a matter of national security, Chinese state-owned paper Xinhua reported last month.
China instituted a “one-child policy” in the 1980’s allowing just one birth per couple, in an effort to stem population growth, however the policy was rescinded in 2016. China announced in May that it would allow married couples to have three children.
So far, the permission to have more children has not resulted in a major increase in births. China’s population has increased by 72 million since 2010, according to official census figures.
“The pace and scale of China’s demographic crisis are faster and bigger than we imagined,” Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, told the Financial Times in April. “That could have a disastrous impact on the country.”