China’s birthrate rises after one-child policy loosened

BEIJING (AP) — The number of births in China has risen nearly 8 percent in the year after the government loosened its unpopular one-child policy.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission said this week that 17.86 million children were born last year, an increase of 1.31 million from 2015. Nearly half of the children born were to couples who already had a child.

China enacted its one-child policy in 1979 to control population growth, enforced with fines and in some cases state-mandated abortions. But it now faces a rapidly aging workforce and the prospect of not having enough younger workers to support them.

The government allowed all married couples to have two children beginning in 2016.

The commission acknowledged many families remain reluctant to have a second child for financial reasons.