Can China's two-child policy rebalance its aging population?

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Can China's Two-Child Policy Rebalance Its Aging Population?


China's more than thirty-year-old one-child policy is drawing to a close. On January 1, 2016, China's one couple, two-child policy will go into effect.

The country's lawmakers passed an amendment to the policy, and it's plain and simple: "The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children."

READ EARLIER: China decides to abolish 1-child policy, allow 2 children

The policy was put in place to stave off rapid -- and potentially damaging -- population growth in the country. Officials were worried there would be too many people with too few resources available to them.

But three decades later, China's population is growing old and there aren't enough young people to balance the scales.

See developments in the policy over the years:

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Can China's two-child policy rebalance its aging population?
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, file photo, a child bends over in a public park in Yinchuan in northwestern China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region. China's ruling Communist Party announced Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, that it will abolish the country's decades-old one-child policy and allow all couples to have two children, removing remaining restrictions that limited many urban couples to only one, the official Xinhua News Agency said. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A woman gestures towards two dolls depicting children near a child in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. The official Xinhua News Agency says China's ruling Communist Party has decided to abolish the country's one-child policy and allow all couples to have two children. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
To go with China-family-social-population,FEATURE by Neil Connor This photo taken on April 17, 2015 shows children playing in the schoolyard of the once-bustling Technical Secondary School in Rudong, Jiangsu province. Rusty padlocks seal empty classrooms and blank graduation certificates litter a dusty, silent school corridor in Rudong, a haunting glimpse of China's ageing future in a town which pioneered the one-child policy. One fifth of Rudong's million-strong population is above 65 years old, making it the first place in China to be classified as 'super-elderly', according to state media. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with China-family-social-population,FEATURE by Neil Connor This photo taken on April 17, 2015 shows children playing in the schoolyard of the once-bustling Technical Secondary School in Rudong, Jiangsu province. Rusty padlocks seal empty classrooms and blank graduation certificates litter a dusty, silent school corridor in Rudong, a haunting glimpse of China's ageing future in a town which pioneered the one-child policy. One fifth of Rudong's million-strong population is above 65 years old, making it the first place in China to be classified as 'super-elderly', according to state media. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on January 19, 2015 shows a Chinese mother resting with her daughter while shopping at a furniture store in Beijing. China's working-age population continued to fall in 2014, the government said on January 20, as Beijing struggles to address a spiralling demographic challenge made worse by its one-child policy. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A child plays near water fountains at a shopping mall in Beijing, Monday, July 13, 2015. Chinese authorities issued a yellow alert for high temperatures as a heat wave sweeps parts of northern and central China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A Chinese woman cuddles her child in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 6, 2014. Late last year, China's National People's Congress eased the one-child policy. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
A woman pushes a baby carriage on an overpass in Beijing on May 8, 2014. China began to implement the loosening of its controversial one-child policy on January 17, when a province announced it has made it legal for couples to have two children if one parent is an only child. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 02: Young orphaned Chinese children eat a meal during feeding at a foster care center on April 2, 2014 in Beijing, China. China's orphanages and foster homes used to be filled with healthy girls, reflecting the country's one-child policy and its preference for sons. Now the vast majority of orphans are sick or disabled. China says it has 576,000 orphans in its child welfare system though outside groups put the number at closer to a million. The parents who abandon them either cannot afford treatment or feel an inability to cope with raising a child who has special needs. In many cases an unwanted baby is never registered so the parents can skirt the one-child policy if they try for another. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 02: A young orphaned Chinese girl sits in a crib at a foster care center on April 2, 2014 in Beijing, China. China's orphanages and foster homes used to be filled with healthy girls, reflecting the country's one-child policy and its preference for sons. Now the vast majority of orphans are sick or disabled. China says it has 576,000 orphans in its child welfare system though outside groups put the number at closer to a million. The parents who abandon them either cannot afford treatment or feel an inability to cope with raising a child who has special needs. In many cases an unwanted baby is never registered so the parents can skirt the one-child policy if they try for another. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 02: A young orphaned Chinese girl stands in a crib at a foster care center on April 2, 2014 in Beijing, China. China's orphanages and foster homes used to be filled with healthy girls, reflecting the country's one-child policy and its preference for sons. Now the vast majority of orphans are sick or disabled. China says it has 576,000 orphans in its child welfare system though outside groups put the number at closer to a million. The parents who abandon them either cannot afford treatment or feel an inability to cope with raising a child who has special needs. In many cases an unwanted baby is never registered so the parents can skirt the one-child policy if they try for another. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 02: Young Chinese orphaned children eat during a feeding at a foster care center on April 2, 2014 in Beijing, China. China's orphanages and foster homes used to be filled with healthy girls, reflecting the country's one-child policy and its preference for sons. Now the vast majority of orphans are sick or disabled. China says it has 576,000 orphans in its child welfare system though outside groups put the number at closer to a million. The parents who abandon them either cannot afford treatment or feel an inability to cope with raising a child who has special needs. In many cases an unwanted baby is never registered so the parents can skirt the one-child policy if they try for another. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, a toddler is lifted by two women as they stroll in Beijing, China. China has no intention of abandoning family planning controls soon despite announcing it would ease the one-child policy, a government spokesman said Tuesday, Nov.19, 2013 adding that the policy could be loosened further in the future. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A Chinese man poses with his son as they visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Beijing's relaxation of its hugely controversial one-child policy is an attention-grabbing first step, but it will have to usher in greater changes if China is to tackle its looming demographic timebomb, experts say. AFP PHOTO/RITA QIAN --- CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read RITA QIAN/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2013 file photo, women cuddle their child at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China. Despite earlier estimates that new exemptions to China's one-child policy would add up to 2 million extra births per year, only 700,000 newly qualified couples applied to have a second child this year, a Chinese official said. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
Visitors to the forbidden city, carry children holding the Chinese national flags in Beijing, China, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. Some 15 million to 20 million Chinese parents will be allowed to have a second baby after the Chinese government announced Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 that couples where one partner has no siblings can have two children, in the first significant easing of the countryâs strict one-child policy in nearly three decades. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A child looks at his reflection in a window in Beijing on November 17, 2013. On November 15 China's Communist rulers announced an easing of the country's controversial one-child policy as part of a raft of sweeping pledges including the abolition of its 're-education' labour camps and loosening controls on the economy. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Parents play with their children at a kid's play area in a shopping mall in Beijing Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. In China, a law generally limits urban families to having just one child. They grow up as the sole focus of doting parents. How does this affect them? What does it mean to Chinese society if generations of kids are raised this way? Authors of a new study say the one-child policy has significant ramifications for Chinese society. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A mother carries her baby on a street in Shanghai on December 28, 2013. China's top legislative committee formally approved a loosening of the country's hugely controversial one-child policy on December 28 and abolished 're-education through labour' camps, state media reported. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Wall Street Journal cites United Nations data that estimates "the number of Chinese people over the age of 65 will jump 85 percent to 243 million by 2030." There are currently about 131 million Chinese people over age 65 in the country.


But there's a possible problem: Some suggest a change in policy won't be enough to encourage more childbirth in the country.

"The cost of living is very high in Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai. Many couples may choose to opt out of having a second child," said Kristie Lu Stout in a video from CNN.

And that sentiment seems to be backed by the numbers.

State-run Xinhua reported an estimated 30,000 Beijing couples applied to have a second child under the country's relaxed regulations on the one-child policy ​in January. Officials expected at least 50,000 would have applied.

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