China’s New Year’s Resolution may be coping with a baby boom.
As of Jan. 1, 2016, the government has abolished the One-Child policy, which limited Chinese couples to having one child or face penalties such as a birth control taxes.
According to China’s Health and Family Planning Commission, more than 90 million couples will qualify for having a second child under new regulations.
NBC reports that China is expecting to see about 8 million new births each year moving forward. This means China will be looking at about 20 to 24 million births each year. Those numbers roughly reflect the population of Australia. Under the One-Child Policy, the number of births was about 16 million per year.
The controversial policy was in place for more than three decades. It was enacted to control population growth in China, which still is the most populous country with almost 1.4 billion people.
However, it led to a skewed population where the elderly outnumbered the working force and males outnumbered females.
China’s work force began to dip in 2012 raising fears among government officials that it would not be able to sustain China’s growth nor support its aging population.
So in October, officials decided to start disposing of the policy.
The Health and Family Planning Commission states the new rules could add up to 30 million people to the work force by 2050.
Some, however, wonder whether change came too late to reverse the trend.
Professor Du Peng, a population expert at Renmin University, tells NBC News that the new policy “won’t solve all problems but it could help adjust the population structure and ease the pressure of aging.”
Nonetheless, a potential baby boom still adds strains on China’s resources.
According to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper, maternity hospitals in the capital can deal with 260,000 pregnancies per year. However, the number of births in Beijing this year is expected to reach 300,000.
The paper also reports that all beds at Beijing’s leading maternity hospital are booked until July.