Representational image.

China has relaxed its two-child family planning policy to allow couples to have three children, reports said.

Married Chinese couples may have up to three children, China announced on Monday.

The decision of the Chinese government comes after a census showed its population is rapidly ageing.

Beijing scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit to try and stave off risks to its economy from a rapidly aging population.

But that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities, a challenge that persiststo this day.

The policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population”, Xinhua news agency said.

Among those measures, China will lower educational costs for families, step up tax and housing support, guarantee the legal interests of working women and clamp down on “sky-high” dowries, it said, without giving specifics. It would also look to educate young people “on marriage and love”.

China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020, recent data showed, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy and far short of the roughly 2.1 needed for replacement level.

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