China’s top legislature has formally adopted a resolution easing the country’s one-child policy, the state news agency Xinhua reports.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed a resolution allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.
A proposal to abolish re-education through labour camps was also approved.
The changes in policy were announced following a meeting of top Communist Party officials in November.
The reforms, which came at the end of a six-day meeting of the congress, have already been tested in parts of the country.
They needed formal legislative approval to be put into effect.
China introduced its one-child policy at the end of the 1970s to curb rapid population growth.
But correspondents say the policy has become increasingly unpopular and that leaders fear the country’s ageing population will both reduce the labour pool and exacerbate elderly care issues.
By 2050, more than a quarter of the population will be over 65.
The one-child policy has on the whole been strictly enforced, though some exceptions already exist, including for ethnic minorities.
The traditional preference for boys has created a gender imbalance as some couples opt for sex-selective abortions.
By the end of the decade, demographers say China will have 24 million “leftover men” who, because of China’s gender imbalance, will not be able to find a wife.
Read more: BBC