The policy change was reportedly approved during a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping on Monday (May 31), six years after Xi scrapped the one-child policy introduced by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979.
China ended its one-child policy in 2015 for demographical reasons: it realised that too many Chinese were heading into retirement. The nation’s population had too few young people entering the labour force to provide for the older population’s retirement healthcare and continued economic growth.
The number of newborns in 2016 - the year following the end of the one-child policy - surged by more than one million to 17.9 million. However, births dropped to 12 million in 2020, the lowest since the great famine of 1959-61, which killed an estimated 15-30 million people. The average number of births per woman fell to 1.3 in 2020, far below the 2.1 needed for a steady population replacement.