A Chinese government think tank is urging the country’s leaders to start phasing out its one-child policy immediately and allow two children for every family by 2015, a daring proposal to do away with the unpopular policy.
Some demographers see the timeline put forward by the China Development Research Foundation as a bold move by the body, which is close to the central leadership. Others warn that the gradual approach, if implemented, would still be insufficient to help correct the problems that China’s strict birth limits have created.
Xie Meng, a press affairs official with the foundation, said the final version of the report will be released “in a week or two.”
However, state media have been given advance copies. Xinhua news agency said the foundation recommended a two-child policy in some provinces from this year and a nationwide two-child policy by 2015. It proposes all birth limits be dropped by 2020, Xinhua reported.
“China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” Xinhua said, citing the report.
However, it remains unclear whether Chinese leaders are ready to take up the recommendations. China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission had no immediate comment.
Known to many as the “one-child policy,” China’s actual rules are more complicated. The government limits most urban couples to one child and allows two children for rural families if their first-born is a girl. There are numerous other exceptions as well.
Cai Yong (蔡泳), an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the report held extra weight because the think tank is under the State Council. He said it was remarkable that state-backed demographers were willing to publicly propose such a detailed schedule.