China has announced that it will allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates.
China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit which has failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births. The cost of raising children in cities has deterred many Chinese couples.
The latest move was approved by President Xi Jinping in a politburo meeting, state media said.
It will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources”, Xinhua said.
How are people reacting?
“If relaxing the birth policy was effective, the current two-child policy should have proven to be effective too, ” Hao Zhou, a senior economist at Commerzbank, told Reuters.
“But who wants to have three kids? Young people could have two kids at most. The fundamental issue is living costs are too high and life pressures are too huge.”
Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, told the same agency that the immediate impact “is likely to be positive but small”.
“The long term impact depends on if the government can successfully reduce the cost for raising children – particularly education and housing,” the economist added.
On social media, some Chinese people also seemed less than excited about the new measures.
“[We can have] three kids, but the problem is I don’t even want to have one,” said one social media user on micro-blogging site Weibo.
“Do you know most young people already find it so exhausting to take care of themselves?”
One Beijing resident who spoke to the BBC ahead of the announcement echoed these thoughts, saying she wanted to “live my life” without the “constant worries” of raising a child.