According to a statement from the Communist Party, families will now be allowed to have two children

By Maria Yagoda
Updated October 29, 2015 12:10 PM
Credit: ChinaFotoPress/Getty

After 35 years, China will be ending its controversial one-child policy, Xinhua news agency reports.

Since 1979, Chinese couples have only been allowed to have one child, due to a government effort to control the population growth rate. It is estimated that the policy, which penalized couples who violated it with fees, forced abortions and infanticide, has prevented roughly 400 million births, according to the BBC.

China, the world’s most populous nation with 1.4 billion people, announced in 2013 that couples could have two children if one of the parents was a single child themselves.

Xinhua news reports that all couples will now be allowed to have two children.

The move comes in response to increasing concern over China’s aging population – roughly 30 percent of Chinese residents are over the age of 50. China will “fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an ageing population,” a statement from the Communist Party reads.

The changes are expected to be ratified by China’s parliament when it convenes in March 2016, according to NBC News.