China's plan to allow all couples to have two children will balance the population and support development, President Xi Jinping said in a statement released Tuesday.
The policy change, which will see the country abandon its decades-old one-child policy, was proposed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held from Oct. 26 to 29.
The new policy could reduce the pressure of an aging population, increase labor supply and support balanced population development, according to a statement explaining a proposal for formulating the country's 13th Five-year Plan.
Currently, couples are allowed to have two children if one of them is an only child. Despite this, until the end of August this year, only 1.69 million couples, or 15.4 percent of the more than 11 million eligible couples, had applied to have a second child, the statement said.
Over 15 percent of the population is 60 years old or above, and the working-age population has started to decrease and "the trend is continuing," the statement said.
"The National Health and Family Planning Commission and other departments have confirmed that the policy change is feasible," Xi said in the statement.
The policy change comes following a drop in couples wanting children.
"Most women of child-bearing age were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Their opinions on parenthood have changed, with related costs rising," according to Xi.
In addition, the idea of having children to look after the old is not widely held anymore, making smaller families the norm, Xi said.
The proposal allows all couples to have two children, but demands improved health services, and more nurseries and kindergartens.
The proposal champions a family-based multi-level elderly care system run with the participation of communities and institutions. It underscores that elderly services should be fully open to private investment.