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China’s 2-child policy won’t lead to population boom: Study

The loosening of China’s one-child policy to allow all married couples to have two children will bring only a relatively small increase in population growth, a study predicted on Friday, while recommending that the country increase its retirement age to address an expected labour shortage.

With 1.37 billion people, China currently has the world’s largest population. It will peak at 1.45 billion in 2029, compared with a peak of 1.4 billion in 2023 if the “one-child” policy that restricted most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two if their first was a girl had continued, according to the study, published in the medical journal Lancet.

China brought in the policy in 1979 with the aim of limiting a surging population and promoting economic development.

It was revised over the years to allow more couples to have an additional child, until the government allowed all married couples to have two children beginning this year, mainly to combat an aging population.

One of the study’s authors, Zeng Yi of Peking University, said that it was the first such analysis to fully consider rural-urban differences and the effects of migration when quantifying the impact on population growth.

The study says it assumes that the total fertility rate, or births per woman, will rise from the current 2.01 in rural areas and 1.24 in urban areas to 2.15 and 1.67, respectively, in the next decade.

That takes into account a lower socioeconomic level in rural areas and the fact that ethnic minorities are allowed three or more children. It estimates a combined total fertility rate of 1.81 in 2030.
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