In 1979, the Chinese government instituted a controversial population control policy, limiting families to having one child. Now, faced with a substantial aging population, the government has decided to ease the policy’s restrictions and permit two children per family. The one-child policy is said to have prevented about 400 million births, and the Chinese government contends that it was integral in China’s plan to gain and sustain economic growth. This particular policy change is the most definitive in reversing China’s stance on having only one child per family, although a number of other exemptions from the law have been considered since it was instituted, including allowing rural farming families to have two children if the first-born was a girl, and more recently allowing couples to have a second child if either member of the couple was an only child. The one-child policy is attributed as being a significant cause of the gender imbalance in China, since families who violated the policy were subjected to fines and other punishments during the policy period. As a result, there were common reports of both forced and voluntary abortions, female infanticide, and the underreporting of births of female children. According to a 2014 Newsweek report, there are 32 million more boys than girls under the age of 20 currently in China. News about the lifting of the policy was met with mixed reactions in China by parents now too old to have a second child as well as by those concerned with the strain of population growth on their country.


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