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Two-child policy working, birthrate figures show
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When China relaxed its four-decade one-child policy at the start of 2016, there were a variety of predictions on whether the change in family planning rules would encourage enough people to have a second child.

Now the numbers are in: In the first half of 2016, the proportion of Chinese newborns who were second children grew to 44.7 percent of total newborns.

That's an increase of some 6.9 percentage points over the proportion of second-child newborns for the whole of 2015, which was 37.9 percent. A total of 8.31 million newborns were registered nationwide this year by the end of June, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Some regions, mostly large cities, are beginning to see second children comprising more than half of local newborns, the commission said.

Available data indicate it's the highest proportion of second children since China introduced its family planning policies in the late 1970s, limiting most couples to just one child, the commission told China Daily.

In 2014, more exceptions to the one-child policy were introduced, such as the exception that allowed a second child when one parent was an only child. The number of second children began to grow.

The universal two-child policy was adopted by China's top leadership in October 2015, and it began to be implemented nationwide in 2016.

The new statistics make it clear that some families got started early in their planning for a second child, before the policy became official. The numbers are anticipated to go up for the year's second half.

"We expect a clear increase in the total births for this year, and an even larger share of second-child newborns," the commission said.

That's an important development, said Yuan Xin, a population scientist at Tianjin-based Nankai University, who advises the commission.

"If this grows into a trend, then the new two-child policy will prove to be working," Yuan said. What he means by "working", Yuan stressed, is that the policy would held redress, over the long run, the challenge from a dwindling work force and rapidly aging population.

The two-child policy is expected to help push forward China's population peak by two years to 2029, when there will be 1.45 billion people, the commission statement said.

Then the size of population will start tapering off, becoming stable at around 1.38 billion, compared with around 1.2 billion without the policy change, it said.

"The long-term effect of the universal two-child policy, thus, is significant to China's sustainable development," Yuan said.

By the year 2050, it is expected to result in an extra 30 million working-age people and lower the aging rate by 2 percent, commission projections show.

The family planning commission pledged in its statement to collaborate with other departments to make it easier to raise children. Perks in taxation, maternity leave and education are being considered for families with two children.

 
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All rights reserved.Jiangsu ICP Record No. 05003616
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