"China, worried about an ageing population, is studying scrapping its controversial one-child policy but will not do away with family-planning policies altogether, a senior official said on Thursday," according to Reuters.
China's current one-child policy, which was put in place in 1979, was intended to alleviate overpopulation as well as the resulting environmental problems. The one-child rule is typically relaxed for rural families, especially if their first child is a daughter. Many large Chinese cities allow two individuals who are only children to have more than one child together. And some families opt to ignore the policy and simply pay the fines put in place for those who have more than one child.
"China says its policies have prevented several hundred million births and boosted prosperity, but experts have warned of a looming social time-bomb from an ageing population and widening gender disparity stemming from a traditional preference for boys," according to the article. "Normally, between 103 and 107 boys are born for every 100 girl infants, but in China, 118 boys are born for every 100 girls." This disparity is likely because of China's traditional preference for sons rather than daughters.
This could lead to myriad social problems in the future. Women will likely bear the brunt of these problems. But if China's already large population were to start increasing at an uncontrolled pace, the entire population could suffer.
"Teams studying the issue would have to consider the strain of China's huge population on its scarce resources, popular attitudes, and how much of a social net China can afford to provide without the traditional reliance on large families to care for the aged," according to the article. "Surveys show that 60 percent of Chinese younger than 30 want a maximum of two children."
China is already in the midst of transforming everything from its culture to its economy as it aims for superpower status. A shift this big is something to keep an eye on--it won't just be felt in China, it will be felt all over the world.