China’s population woes call for drastic societal changes to boost birth rate

  • On the International Day of Families, Chinese authorities took the timely opportunity to stress the importance of boosting population quality while making fresh pledges of support for childbirth, as deepening demographic challenges continue to have an outsized impact on the world’s second-largest economy.
  • Amid a rising reluctance to raise children, primarily due to high costs, China needs to foster a child-bearing-friendly society to maintain an appropriate birth rate, according to a commentary in the state-run newspaper Economic Daily on 15 May, an annual day to recognise the importance of family, initiated by the United Nations.
  • Factors contributing to the reluctance include insufficient childcare services; high property prices and education costs; and women’s concerns about the impacts on their careers.
  • But besides incentivising people to have babies, China needs to focus more on education and skills training to tackle the nation’s shrinking working-age population, party mouthpiece People’s Daily said in an article on the same day.
  • A number of other local governments have offered cash incentives to stimulate a baby boom. The northeastern city of Shenyang in Liaoning province is offering a monthly subsidy of CNY500 (USD72) to families with a third child, until the child reaches three, the government announced in February.
  • And Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, said it would give a one-off subsidy of CNY20,000 to couples having a third child, and CNY5,000 for those having a second.

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