"China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth," the report said.
According to the government, the one-child policy reduced hundreds of millions of births since it came into effect in 1979 under former leader Deng Xiaoping, and helped to lift countless families out of poverty. However, the policy has now burdened a young workforce. The one-child generation must support the large, aging population. Effectively, the one child will now have to care for two parents and four grandparents.
Heavy fines and penalties for breaking the one-child policy have also led to increased numbers of forced abortions and sterilisations, leaving the country with a skewed sex ratio. Some estimates suggest 40 million Chinese men may never find a wife. ..The government has recognised the problems caused by the gender imbalance and banned sex-selective abortion, but whether or not these measures will suffice to counterbalance China's ageing problem remains to be seen.
The proposed plan would immediately allow two-child families in some provinces, with a nationwide two-child policy implemented by 2015. All birth restrictions would be removed by 2020.
"Old people feel alone a lot so we need to take our time with them," says Xie. "Their pensions aren't high enough, they live alone and nobody cares about them … I think it's getting worse and worse."
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