China decides to end remaining 1-child policy, allowing all couples to have 2 children 2014: A man holds his son at his apartment in a suburban area of Shanghai. (Reuters) Next China's ruling Communist Party announced Thursday that it will abolish the country's decades-old one-child policy and allow all couples to have two children, removing remaining restrictions that limited many urban couples to only one, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The move to allow all couples to have two children was "to improve the balanced development of population" and to deal with an aging population, Xinhua said on its microblog. The widely unpopular policy was first introduced in 1979 as a temporary measure to curb a surging population and limit demands for water and other resources. It was long considered one of the party's most onerous intrusions into family life. But the country has been moving toward easing family planning restrictions in recent years due to a variety of factors, including a looming labor crisis. China’s working-age population is drastically shrinking, and the United Nations projects that China will lose 67 million workers from 2010 to 2030. Meanwhile, China’s elderly population is expected to rise from 110 million in 2010 to 210 million in 2030. By 2050, the seniors will account for a quarter of the population. In addition, the policy has led to a host of social problems, including forced abortions and sterilization of women, the Wall Street Journal reports. Soon after it was first implemented, rural couples were allowed two children if their first-born was a girl. In November 2013, the party announced that it would also allow couples to have two children if one of the parents is a single child, the first substantial easing of the policy in nearly three decades. Still, Thursday’s decision signals the government has acknowledged the policy's shortcomings. It’s unclear what effect the shift will have on families. Some demographers and economists say that a new two-child policy will do too little to change China’s economic course and comes too late to solve the looming labor shortage. People are marrying later, some not at all, and many are choosing to have fewer or no children because of the financial burden, the Wall Street Journal adds. Rural residents have been especially reluctant to have more than one child largely because of the costs associated with maintaining a larger family. The Associated Press contributed to this report.