Some three decades after China launched its highly controversial policy restricting families to having one child, the government may soon allow a two-child policy to curb a demographic time bomb.
Regarded as one of history's biggest experiments in state-enforced engineering, China's Communist Party brought the one-child policy into law in 1980 in an attempt to stem sky-rocketing population growth.
The law is believed to have resulted in millions of forced abortions, and has left China with the combination of a rapidly ageing population, a shallow labour pool and an imbalance in the sex ratio. The resul is a demographic time bomb.
Liang Zhongtang, a demographer from the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, said the policy should have been abolished "long ago".
However, the government appears to be downplaying the pressing issue, with the National Health and Family PlanningCommission telling the state-run China Daily that no timetable has been set for allowing couples to have a second child.
The most recent UN report on ageing populations revealed that while China is the world's most populous nation, the decline in birth-rates since the 1990s means its population is also ageing faster than many other developing nations. By 2050, China will have nearly 440million over-60s, according to UN estimates.
Meanwhile, the working age population fell by 3.71 million, the National Bureau of Statistics reported earlier this year. The labour pool of 16 to 59-year-olds has been dropping since 2012, and has coincided with a downturn in economic growth and a rise in unemployment, Bloomberg reported.
On top of this, there are 33 million more men than women in China.
If the new policy is introduced, it will follow the gradual relaxation of the one-child law, as ethnic minority couples, families from rural areas with a first-born girl, and only-child parents, have gone unpunished despite having a second child.