China’s rules for when families can and can’t have more than one child

November 16, 2013

A woman in Beijing holds her newborn daughter. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese officials loosened the country's controversial one-child policy on Friday, continuing a gradual process of softening the 1979 law that prohibits most families from having more than one child.

To get a sense of how the law works, The Washington Post's Beijing bureau has translated the list of exceptions to the one-child rule as posted by the Beijing municipal government office on family planning. This is the list of regulations from before this latest relaxation. As you can see, there are a number of exceptions, many of which apply to rural Chinese. The new change says that if either parent is an only child, the couple may have a second child.

Regulations from Beijing Municipality on Population and Family Planning

A couple may give birth to a second child if:

(1) The couple has just one child, who is handicapped or unable to work because of non-hereditary diseases.

(2) Both parents are only children themselves, and have just one child so far.

(3) The couple adopted their first child because one of them was diagnosed as infertile.

(4) The couple remarried but have only one child in total.

(5) The couple are ethnic minorities who moved to the city from provinces bordering other countries and were given permission from a high-ranking Family Planning office before they moved.

(6) The husband has brothers, but only one brother is able to give birth, and the others have promised not to adopt.

(7) The husband is a farmer who married a woman already with a daughter (this only if that husband pledges to care for the woman’s parents).

(8) The couple are rural farmers, in which one spouse is a handicapped soldier with an injury grade B or above or can no longer work.

(9) The couple are farmers from the deep mountains who only have a daughter, depend on farming and are poor.

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Max Fisher · November 15, 2013