On Sunday, China’s government signed a bill allowing all married couples to have a second child.
The law was passed as China attempts to cope with an ageing population and shrinking workforce. The change had previously been announced in October. It will take effect from January 1st, 2016, according to the Xinhua news agency.
All married couples will be allowed to have a second child but the legislation maintains limits on additional births.
The original policy led to sex-selective abortions or infanticide targeting girls, because of a centuries-old social preference for boys.
Rural families were already allowed two children if the first was a girl, while ethnic minorities were allowed an extra offspring, leading some to dub it a “one-and-a-half child” policy.
As a result China’s population – the world’s largest at 1.37 billion – is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking.