BEIJING - The Chinese government is exploring the possibility of further easing the country's one-child policy that has been implemented for more than 30 years as early as by the end of 2013, an expert familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
The government is considering whether to tentatively allow married couples to have a second baby later this year or early 2014 if either parent were an only child, said the Chinese expert, who declined to be named, adding that there have also been discussions to completely scrap the long-standing policy in or after 2015 to let all couples have a second baby.
Such discussions have been taking place amid China's growing concerns that a potentially aging population could constrain its economic growth.
There are signs that the National Health and Family Planning Commission, which is in charge of handling China's huge population, is evolving its position on the one-child policy. The world's second-largest economy has already taken such steps as allowing a second baby if both parents do not have siblings.
According to a report by the 21st Century Business Herald earlier this month, the average number of children a Chinese woman is estimated to bear over her lifetime stood at 1.18 after experts analyzed figures of China's 2010 census.
This is far below the 2.07 that is said to be needed to prevent the population from falling. By comparison, Japan's fertility rate is 1.39 while South Korea's is 1.23.