Why China Is Struggling to Boost Its Birthrate

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China’s parliament struck family-planning policies from a new Civil Code that came into effect this year, leaving room for the government to scrap birth limits altogether. That hasn’t happened yet, with China changing its one-child policy in 2016 to allow women to have as many as two children. The policy change worked at first: The number of newborns in 2016 was 17.9 million, a jump of more than 1 million from the year before. However, births dropped each year after that, to 12 million in 2020, the lowest since 1961. The average number of births per woman fell to 1.3 in 2020, far below the 2.1 needed for a steady population, excluding migration.

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