On Oct. 29, 2015, the Chinese government made the historic decision to end its controversial one-child policy and allow every family to have two children.
It was a change rooted in economic pragmatism. Though China remains the world’s most populous nation, its birth rate had been declining for years. Easing the family-planning rules was designed to avoid — or at least mitigate — a looming demographic crisis.
Five years later, the hoped-for baby boom has largely failed to materialize. Yet the two-child policy has had a deep impact on families across the country — often in surprising ways. There also remains huge uncertainty about how China’s birth-control regime will develop in the future.
In this series, Sixth Tone speaks with families, family-planning officials, and policymakers to provide fresh insights into how the two-child policy has affected society, how the restrictions are enforced, and what the government might do to fix the existing challenges.
In China’s cities, sky-high living costs and scarce school places are forcing families to say “no” to a second child.
While many Chinese seniors agree to take care of their young grandchildren, some regret their decision.
With many expecting the central government to further relax family-planning rules, local officials are enforcing the policy differently.
For shidu parents, the advent of the two-child policy promised to ease their suffering.
Remarried couples in Guangdong are forced into difficult decisions as the government dithers over their reproductive rights.