China begins phasing out one-child policy

China’s controversial one-child policy is coming to an end in March of 2016, officials from the top family planning body announced on October 29. The policy was enacted in 1979 to stem the major growth of the population, which had reached 979 million people by the time the one-child policy was put in place.

Today, China’s population is over 1.3 billion people, but a majority of the population is elderly or middle aged. The government hopes that the removal of the policy will help economic growth by allowing people to have enough children to replace the retiring working population.

The policy has received sharp criticism since its enactment, from suggestions that it contribute to female infanticide and punishments which could range in severity from a fine to a forced abortion. Some exceptions in the policy have been allowed – parents who have no siblings between them could have more than one child, as well as ethnic minorities and those in rural populations, if their firstborn is a girl.

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