It comes after a once-in-a-decade census showed that China’s population grew at its slowest pace in decades. Photo by EPA

China has announced that it will allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates.

China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit which has failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births.

The cost of raising children in cities has deterred many Chinese couples.

The state media said the latest move was approved by President Xi Jinping in a politburo meeting.

It 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 and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources”, Xinhua said.

But some experts were sceptical of the impact.

Hao Zhou, a senior economist at Commerzbank, told Reuters that “If relaxing the birth policy was effective, the current two-child policy should have proven to be effective too, But who wants to have three kids? Young people could have two kids at most. The fundamental issue is living costs are too high and life pressures are too huge.”

BBC