One of the most controversial policies around the world is about to change. China’s top legislature has approved resolutions to officially amend its one-child policy.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the resolutions Saturday, according to the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency per CNN. The resolution is the equivalent to a legal document in the United States.
First announced last month, the change to the one-child policy will enable couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. In current practice, both parents must be the sole child to be eligible for a second child.
The one-child policy first started in the 1970s and is believed to have prevented some 400 million births, according to Xinhua.
The policy was well received by many for slowing down China’s rapid population growth, but it has also been widely critiqued for the adverse consequences that have come from it such as hefty fines for families and forced abortions.
Critics also said the law hurts China’s elderly, who rely heavily on their children for support as they grow older, and that it constrains economic growth as the working-age population begins to decline.
Since the 1990s, the birth rate has significantly declined, with Chinese women giving birth to approximately 1.4 to 1.6 children.
“China still has a large population. This has not changed. Many of our economic and social problems are rooted in this reality,” said Jiang Fan, a National People’s Congress deputy and member of the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, in the Chinese media. “We cannot risk the population growing out of control.”
The one-child policy easement is expected to go into effect in certain regions beginning in the first quarter of 2014, according to Xinhua. Here’s to hopefully many starting their 2014 on a new positive note.