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China drops law limiting families to one child

A Chinese woman caries a baby in a traditional basket on the outskirts of Chongqing, China, March 19, 2013..
A Chinese woman caries a baby in a traditional basket on the outskirts of Chongqing, China, March 19, 2013.. AP/Eugene Hoshiko

BEIJING, China — For years people in China have only been allowed to have one child. The law is known as the one-child policy.

On Thursday China dropped that rule. People will now be allowed to have two children.

The one-child policy became law in 1980. Back then China's leaders were worried the country had too many people. They were afraid there might soon be too many people to feed.

The policy worked in some ways. There are now many fewer babies born each year. China no longer has to worry as much about how to feed its people.

Policy Solved One Problem But Caused Another

Many parents really disliked the policy, though. They thought it was very unfair. Children could not have brothers or sisters.

The policy also caused problems that China's leaders did not expect. There are now many more old people than ever before. There are also too few young people.

It can be hard for a country if too many of its people are old. Old people usually cannot work. They get sick. Other people must take care of them.

The Chinese government now has to take care of a large number of old people. It must spend extra money to care for them.

Young People Are Needed To Fill Jobs

Having too few young people is also a big problem. China needs many young workers. They keep China's companies running. The country will become much poorer if too few people are working.

Now that the one-child policy has been dropped more children will be born. It will take years for them to grow old enough to work, though. Only then will the country have more workers.

Fewer Workers Every Year

Until then, the number of young workers will keep dropping. Every year more people will get too old to work. There will be fewer and fewer workers each year. Things will go on that way for many more years.

The number of people age 60 and above will also keep growing. Right now, one in seven people is 60 or above. By the early 2030s one in four will be.

Experts say China was right to change the one-child policy. It caused some real problems and was very unpopular with parents. It will take years for the country to see any difference, though.

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Anchor 2: Central Idea

Which answer choice BEST tells the main idea of the article?


When people in China get old, they will need help.


In China, each family can have only one child.


China is changing its laws to let families have more children.


China's population is smaller because its families are smaller.

Anchor 3: People, Events & Ideas

Why has China's population been falling?


There was too little food for the people.


Many people are getting older.


Each family could only have one child.


People were working instead of having children.

Anchor 2: Central Idea

According to the article, why does China want its people to have more children?


China will become poorer if it doesn't get more workers.


Before 1980, China's leaders thought there would soon be too many people.


It will be years before the effect of the new law will be felt.


Many people thought the "one-child policy" was not fair.

Anchor 3: People, Events & Ideas

What is one problem China has already had because of its lower birth rate?


The population has been growing faster in the countryside than in the cities.


The government is spending more money to support elderly people.


The new law will not help China right away.


The one-child policy was changed in 2013.


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