China officially ended its one child policy on Sunday with the signing into law of a bill allowing all married couples to have a second child as it attempts to cope with an ageing population and shrinking workforce.
The change, which was announced in October by the ruling Communist Party, takes effect from January 1, the Xinhua news agency reported.
All married couples will be allowed to have a second child but the legislation maintains limits on additional births.
The “one child policy”, instituted in the late 1970s, restricted most couples to only a single offspring and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom and had prevented 400 million births.
Experts say that the shift to a two child policy is likely too little, too late to address China’s looming population crisis and that the government is unlikely to dismantle enforcement mechanisms for reproductive control due to deeply entrenched bureaucratic interests.