China reviewing one child policy amid demographic timebomb and slowing growth

China’s Family Planning Commission is studying proposals to lift the ban on a second child – if either parent is an only child. The country’s official news agency Xinhua reported that the new rules are expected to come into force early next year and may be extended to cover all families by 2015.

Under current laws, both parents must be only children to qualify for a second birth. The decision to evaluate the policy comes amid fears of a slowdown in Chinese growth and a rapidly ageing population, and it is presumably hoped the policy will trigger a baby boom that could help ameliorate the situation.

The United Nations has estimated that, under the current policy, the number of 15 to 24 year olds will fall 27 per cent to 164m by 2025, while the number of people aged over 65 will grow 78 per cent to 195m.

A revision of the policy could also be a victory of a more human kind, with the policy having lead to millions of abortions and sterlisations over the years since its introduction in 1971.

This morning, HSBC’s chief executive Stuart Gulliver blamed a miss in profit expectations partly on a slowdown in Chinese growth, but added the country is beginning to shift from quantity to quality of growth.