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China's slowing population growth prompts questions about one-child policy

China's population grew to 1.34 billion people last year, the National Bureau of Statistics announced Monday, marking a modest jump for a massive population and leading experts to suggest China may relax its generation-old one-child policy.

Andy Wong / AP

A baby sits in a carriage while a woman buys vegetables at a stall near a residential building in Beijing, China on Feb. 28.

The figure of 1.3410 billion, which is preliminary and based on a sample survey, shows China added about 6.3 million people last year, up from 1.3347 billion at the end of 2009.

Since 1979, the government has limited families in cities to one child and rural parents to two to control its population.

"China's population now is mainly growing because people are living longer, not because people are having lots of babies," said Cai Yong, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an expert on China's population.

Andy Wong / AP

An elderly woman checks a receipt next to the groceries she bought outside a shop in Beijing, China on Feb. 27.

China's population growth has been contracting since 1987 and the U.S. Census Bureau has projected it will peak at slightly less than 1.4 billion in 2026, with India overtaking China as the world's most populous nation in 2025.

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