China today scrapped a rule requiring couples to apply for an official approval before having their first or second child and replaced it with birth registrations, days after ending the controversial one-child policy.
The move, effective immediately, was announced by the ruling Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and the State Council, the Cabinet.
Officials said the approval system will be replaced by birth registrations for couples’ first and second children, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
All Chinese couples have been allowed to have two children since January 1, after the national legislature amended its family planning policy in late December, as the world’s most-populous country grappled with a shrinking labour force and an increase in ageing population.
The one-child policy, implemented since 1978, is credited to have prevented over 400 million births, restricting the population to nearly 1.4 billion as per 2013 census.
According to latest figures, the number of people aged 60 or over in China has reached 212 million at the end of 2014, accounting for 15.5 per cent of the country’s population, with the number of disabled elderly people approaching 40 million.
The United Nations has predicted that people aged over 65 will account for 18 per cent of China’s population by 2030, double the number in 2011 which will have a negative bearing on China’s labour availability.
By 2050, China is expected to have nearly 500 million people over the age of 60, exceeding the population of the US.
The ageing population has brought greater demand for elderly care services.
According to a report published by Price waterhouse Coopers earlier this month, Chinese people will spend over USD 1.54 trillion from 2016 to 2020 on elderly care, increasing 17 per cent per year.