End of the one-child policy - level 3
These children could be the first in generations to have a brother or sister. China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy. All couples can now have two children as the country's ruling Communist party announced an ease of family planning restrictions.
It’s estimated that the controversial policy prevented about 400 million births since it began in 1979. It was enforced to reduce the country's birth rate, in turn slowing the rapid growth of population.
Back in the 1950s, China's population was increasing by around 1.9% each year, after people were encouraged to have children to increase the workforce. But the government decided that this was unsustainable, resulting in the one-child policy. Those who flouted the rules were either fined, lost their jobs, or in some cases, mums were forced to abort their babies or be sterilised.
Some desperate parents gave up their babies, leaving them is so-called baby hatches. It was for poor mums and dads who could not afford to keep their sick or disabled baby and saw parents simply place a child in the hatch, press an alarm button and then leave them behind to be taken care of by the state.
Chinese families traditionally favour boys and so, if they can have only one child, some parents abandon girls and try again for a boy.
Under the 2013 reform, couples in which one parent is an only child were allowed to have a second child.
China's working age population continued to shrink in 2013, for the first time in decades, made worse by the one-child policy. The drop means that China could be the first country in the world to get old before it gets rich. Currently, there are no immediate details on the new policy or a time-frame for implementation.
Difficult words: policy (a rule), announce (to say something officially), controversial (a lot of people have a strong opinion about this), unsustainable (not able to exist for a long time), flout (to choose not to follow), fine (to tell somebody to pay some money for doing something illegal), sterilise (to block or remove somebody’s sex organs so he or she can’t have children), baby hatch (a place where you can leave a baby), shrink (to get smaller and smaller), implementation (implementing something – to put something into effect).
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