China announced Monday that it will relax its family planning measures and allow its citizens to have a third child, after census figures released this month showed a drop in the birth rate.

Low wages and the high cost of living in big cities like Beijing discourage many families from having a second child. In 2015, a year after the relaxation of the one-child policy, fewer children were born than the Chinese government had estimated.And the trend has continued downward ever since.

Now, the Beijing government has made the decision to allow families to have a third child with the aim of “improving the population structure” of the country, as well as “actively responding to the problem of aging.”

According to the census presented last 11th and elaborated every ten years, China now has almost 1,412 million inhabitants, although population aging and low birth rate have set off alarm bells in Beijing.

In 2016, China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy, initially imposed to stop a population explosion, with a two-child limit, which did not result in a sustained rise in births as the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities deterred many couples from starting a family.

Earlier this month, China’s census showed the population growing at its slowest rate over the past decade since 1950, with data showing a fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman by 2020 alone, a figure similar to other aging societies such as Japan or Italy.

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