China on Thursday said it would formally end its notorious one-child policy, which was intended to curb a surging population but has since been blamed for looming demographic problems in the world’s No. 2 economy.
In a brief statement on Thursday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said all Chinese would be allowed to have two children. It didn’t provide a time frame or any other details.
China effectively hobbled the one-child policy two years ago, when it allowed couples to have two children if one parent came from a household without other siblings. It has also long allowed exceptions in some parts of the country.
Still, Thursday’s move marked a symbolic shift as well as an acknowledgment that China now faces a looming worker-shortage in coming decades. China’s fertility rate, or the number of births per woman, was below the replacement level at 1.17 in 2013, according to the most recent data from the World Bank. Demographers have been urging Beijing to do more to thwart a predicted labor shortage, arguing that they should lift birth restrictions entirely.