Between 15 million and 20 million couples in China will now have the option to have a second child if they want, estimates have revealed after the Communist government announced the easing of its strict one-child policy last week.
The changed rule says that if the husband or the wife in a marriage is the only child, the couple could opt for a second baby.
Currently, the restricted rule says that couples in which both parents are only children can have two.
Most urban residents can have only one child, while in rural areas, couples who give birth to a girl first have been allowed to have a second child since the early 1980s, which critics said served the fixation for a boy — like in India — in Chinese society.
In certain areas like Qinghai and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, families of certain ethnicities are allowed three children.
But government officials and experts have warned newly eligible couples to wait before the changed rules are evenly implemented at local and municipal levels across the vast country.
For one, no uniform timetable has been put out by the government for the nationwide implementation of the rule. It would be up to local authorities to implement the changes according to population conditions in the area.
“In areas where there is a high concentration of couples who become eligible under the new regulations, those who are older and with a ticking biological clock will get permits first,
Wang Pei’an, vice-minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said measures will be devised to avoid a “pile-up” of births over a short period of time.