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China Officially Ends One-Child Policy In Historic Change Of Law

Chinese families will be allowed to have two children after lawmakers passed a decision to alter the country's three-decades-old policy from Jan. 1.

Posted on December 27, 2015, at 4:39 a.m. ET

Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

It's official: Chinese families will be allowed to have two children after lawmakers passed a historic decision Sunday to alter the country's controversial one-child policy.

The law will come into effect on Jan. 1, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children," the newly revised Law on Population and Family Planning stated.

It was passed at the bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which ran from Monday to Sunday.

Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

The change in policy is expected to add 30 million people to the country's labour force by 2050 and decrease China's elderly population by 2%, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in November.

China's one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s as a way to control population growth.

According to Xinhua News, the policy limited urban couples to one child and allowed for rural couples to have two.

The policy, officially enforced starting in 1980, was later eased to allow for a second child only if the first child was a girl.

The party had been taking steps to ease the family planning policy in recent years. In November 2013, following the Third Plenary Session, couples where one was an only child were allowed to have a second baby.