An aging, predominately male population is prompting a reconsideration of the country’s 40-year old population control policy

hina is reportedly considering ending its policy limiting the number of children families are allowed to have, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

Sources involved in government deliberations over the nearly four-decade old population control-policy told Bloomberg that China’s leadership, wants to slow the pace of the country’s aging population and protect itself against charges that it has violated human rights.

As a result of family planning regulations, the country’s working-age population fell last year by almost 5.5 million people, and its economic growth rate has been on downward trend, according to the South China Morning Post.

Despite relaxing the one-child policy two years ago to allow families to have two children, births fells 3.5 percent last year. The Chinese government projects that about 25% of the country’s population will be 60 or older by 2030, a dramatic increase from 13% in 2010.

The policy’s coercive measures, including fines and forced sterilization and abortions, have also resulted in a severe gender imbalance, with 34 million more men than women, according to the Washington Post.

Ending China’s one-child policy would mark the end of a social experiment that was tried in response to the economic crisis that resulted from the Communist takeover of the country in 1949. By 1979, the the country’s leaders decided to limit the growth of the population and instituted the one-child policy.