China is now more cautious in reforming its existing birth policies despite the growing urgency for the government to address the nation's declining birth rate.
Sources with knowledge in the matter said Tuesday officials were concerned a rapid relaxation of policies could harm the country's social stability.
Calls for sweeping reforms to the nation's birth policies come after the release of the latest census that highlighted China's rapidly declining birth rate. According to the census, China's population grew at its slowest over the past decade since the 1950s. The country's elderly rose as a result, the census showed.
As of last year, China's fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman - similar to the rates of aging societies such as Italy and Japan. Analysts said if China didn't remedy the problem it may be headed to an irreversible population decline.
Sources said officials were currently trying to find other solutions to address the nation's demographic challenges. Officials are reportedly considering measures such as easing financial burdens on couples and removing birth restrictions will only be done as a last resort.
Officials are reportedly concerned that lifting birth restrictions would have unintended consequences. Sources said officials are concerned that rural families could expand faster than city dwellers - who are more reluctant to have more children due to the costs involved. This could add to the nation's poverty and employment problems, sources said.
"If we free up policy, people in the countryside could be more willing to give birth than those in the cities, and there could be other problems," one of the sources said.
Other measures that are reportedly being considered include the raising of the nation's retirement age. Officials said the move would help slow the decline in the available workforce, while also easing pressure on the country's pension system.
Because of a previous boom in population, China introduced its "one-child policy" in the 1970s. By 2016, the government had relaxed the restriction and allowed some couples to have a maximum of two children. However, the move had failed to resolve the nation's declining birth rates, as indicated by the recent census.