China announced the end of its hugely controversial one-child policy on Thursday, with the official Xinhua news agency saying that all couples would be allowed two children.
It cited a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party after a four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the course of the world’s second-largest economy over the next five years.
China is “abandoning its decades-long one-child policy”, Xinhua reported.
The policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom.
But after years of strict, sometimes brutal enforcement by a dedicated government commission, China’s population — the world’s largest — is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking.
The concerns led to limited reforms in 2013, including allowing a second child for some couples in urban areas, but relatively a few have taken up the opportunity.
The Communist leadership met in Beijing to discuss ways to put the country’s stuttering economy back on a smooth growth path as it struggles with structural inefficiencies and social policies left over from an era before it embraced market reforms.