China considers scrapping birth limits by 2019: Bloomberg

FILE PHOTO: A nurse takes care of newborn babies at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province April 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China is considering ending the limits it sets on the number of children a family can have, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

China’s population is aging rapidly, with the number of births falling by 3.5 percent to 17.23 million last year despite the country’s decision in late 2015 to relax the controversial “one-child” policy and allow couples to have a second child.

The State Council, or cabinet, has commissioned research on ending the country’s birth limits on a nationwide basis, the Bloomberg report said.

A decision could be made in the last quarter of this year or in 2019, the report said.

China implemented its one-child policy in the 1970s to limit population growth, but authorities are concerned that a dwindling workforce will not be able to support an increasingly aging population.

The one-child policy also contributed to a sharp gender imbalance, with 32.66 million more males than females at the end of 2017.

Reporting by Meg Shen; Editing by Tony Munroe