The Chinese Communist Party’s top leadership made the decision at a meeting on Monday, state media said, in a move designed to combat the country’s aging population.
State media did not say when the new policy would be implemented.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the population rose by just 5.38% over the past decade — the slowest growth rate since at least the 1960s.
China’s one-child policy was introduced in 1979 and for more than 35 years limited couples to a single offspring, as the country tried to address overpopulation and alleviate poverty.
China’s economy has boomed in recent years and its demographic needs have changed. Today, the government is relying on a large, youthful work force to support high levels of economic growth.
At the same time, China’s population is aging rapidly, endangering its economic growth. The 2020 census data showed the proportion of the population aged over 65 rose rapidly over the past decade, from 8.87% in 2010 to 13.5% in 2020.
The Chinese government has also discussed raising the retirement age in an attempt to deal with its aging workforce. Currently men retire at 60, while women can stop working at 55 for white collar employees.