A new family planning policy will be rolled out across China next year, offering financial support to farmers who have less children.
From 2007, the mother and father of every one-child family and those with two daughters, both living in rural areas will each receive 600 yuan (US$72) a year from the age of 60, said Zhang Weiqing, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
A pilot project for the policy has been in place in 23 provinces and regions since 2002, covering a total of 1.35 million senior citizens in rural areas, Zhang Shaochun, assistant minister of the Ministry of Finance, told a national conference on the project.
As the world's most populous country, China launched the one child-policy in the late 1970s, to bring the spiraling birthrate under control.
Without the policy, the population could have reached nearly 1.7 billion by now, according to the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
However, in the policy's early years local governments' main enforcement measure was to impose fines on rural families that violated the policy.
And experts said although imposing fines has contributed to the project's success, the policy should be adapted as the nation develops. More encouraging measures and public education should be used to raise awareness of the need for family planning and reduce social conflict, they advise.
In rural areas farmers often hope for sons and aim to have at least one boy in their family, even if they are not wealthy enough to support more than one child.
So to support ageing parents who only have one child or two daughters, and to encourage them to obey the national policy, governments at various levels have initiated favourable measures, such as the annual allowance for parents.