(Yicai Global) Dec. 8 -- China should debut economic incentives to encourage couples living in the aging society to have more children, according to a scholar and a government agency.
"To increase the willingness to have children requires a series of public policy arrangements," Ding Changfa, an associate professor at Xiamen University's economics department, told Yicai Global.
China's two-child policy, introduced in 2016, has done little to increase Chinese women's willingness to have kids due to the heavy economic burden of rearing a child.
Measures are needed to address the high cost of housing, healthcare, education, and retirement that prevent urban residents from having children, Ding added.
Some 60 percent of women of reproductive age across China said that the main reason why they don't want to have children is because of the heavy economic impact, according to the 2017 National Childbearing Willingness Survey. Preschool education is costly, and families need to rely on their relatives for help, the survey findings revealed.
The government should protect women’s labor rights, eliminate gender discrimination in hiring, and establish incentives for couples to have a second child, including a more generous maternity allowance, paternity leave, housing and baby formula subsidies, as well as tax and fee cuts, Anhui province's statistics bureau suggested in March.
Even with new carrots, things are not likely to change quickly for one reason. Going forward, there will simply be fewer women at an optimal age to have children. Between 2000 and 2019, some 325.6 million women were born in China, or about a quarter less than during the previous two decades.
China welcomed 14.7 million kids into the world last year, with a birth rate of 10.48 percent, a record low. Over the three previous years, the number of new babies had been declining gradually.
China debuted its universal two-child policy four years ago to encourage families to have more children as the aging population is trying to overcome the delayed impacts of the one-child policy, kicked off in the 1980s.
Editor: Emmi Laine