Beijing: Nearly 20,000 couples have been allowed to have a second child in Beijing under China's controversial One Child Policy, which was recently modified to meet demographic challenges.
So far 21,249 couples have filed birth applications of which 19,363 were granted permission for the second child in the Chinese capital, Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said.
Around 56 per cent of those permitted are women aged between 31 to 35 while another 537 aged above 40, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China last year relaxed its decades-old one-child policy which was designed to curb population growth as the country grappled with looming demographic crisis with the increase in the numbers of old aged people.
A majority of the Chinese provinces, including the most populated, Henan, have allowed couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child. Beijing followed suit on February 21.
Before the policy was adopted, both parents must be sole children to be eligible for a second child.
The relaxation came as the world's second largest economy is coping with a declining labour force and an aging population.
Demographic experts have said the easing will help promote balanced population growth in the country.
Under the one-child policy, many couples, particularly in China's countryside, had abortions as they prefer boys to girls.
This led to a wide gender gap of 118 male births versus 100 female births in 2010.