Get ready for a baby boom in China

Today, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the government would ease back on its "one child" policy, and also begin closing labor reeducation camps. This could transform Chinese society, and lead to some major population growth.

Writes Chris Buckley in the New York Times:

For decades, most urban couples have been restricted to having one child. That has been changing fitfully, with rules on the books that couples can have two children if both parents are single children. But that policy will be now be further relaxed nationwide. Many rural couples already have two, or sometimes more, children.

"This is the first time that a central document has clearly proposed allowing two children when a husband or wife is an only child," said Wang Guangzhou, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. "Now it's just talking about launching this, but the specific policies have to be developed at the operational level."

If carried through, the relaxation would mark the first significant nationwide easing of family-size restrictions that have been in place since the 1970s, said Wang Feng, a demographer who teaches at both the University of California, Irvine, and Fudan University in Shanghai. He estimated the policy could lead to 1 to 2 million more births in China every year, on top of the approximately 15 million births a year now.

Though it's too early to say how these new policies will be implemented, it is the first time in decades that the government has stated publicly that it will be changing its policies on childbirth and forced labor.

Read more at the New York Times.