CHINA has abandoned its one-child policy and will allow couples to have two children instead, according to the state's official media agency.
The decision comes in direct response to China's slowing economic growth, Xinhua announced on Thursday.
The ruling Communist Party has been meeting for the past four days in Beijing, and its decision-making Central Committee approved plans to lift the one child rule as part of President Xi Jinping's plans to stimulate the economy.
Chinese officials have been concerned for some time that more than three decades of the controversial one-child policy have dramatically shifted the country's demographics.
Recent population projections have indicated that the number of people in the state will actually drop from 1.37 billion today to 1.3 billion by 2050, while a declining workforce has increasingly struggled to support a growing number of pensioners.
Since 2013, the policy has already been significantly reduced, no longer applying to people who are urban, Han or themselves from one-child households.
The decision today to go ahead and broaden out the two-child policy will be part of a sweeping set of reforms taking effect in the next five years, as President Xi cements his place as one of the country's most radical leaders since Mao Zedong.
A growing number of scholars had urged the government to reform the rules and last week Liang Zhongtang, a demographer from the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, said the policy should have been abolished "long ago".
The internet - albeit restricted in China - has galvanised public opposition to the law, Zhongtang told The Guardian, arguing that the matter hinges on human rights and reproductive freedom.
Wang Feng, a leading expert on demographic and social change in China, called the change an "historic event" that would change the world but said the challenges of China's aging society would remain.
"It's an event that we have been waiting for for a generation, but it is one we have had to wait much too long for," Wang said.
"It won't have any impact on the issue of the aging society, but it will change the character of many young families.
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