If I were to ask you which country could do with a decline in its birth rate (hint: it’s not Singapore, that’s for sure), you’d probably say China, as it currently has the largest population in the world.
But now, thanks to rising costs and an ageing population, China actually needs its residents to have more children.
Earlier this month, a census showed that the Chinese population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s.
Experts blamed their one-child policy, which was introduced in the late 1970s.
In 2016, this was replaced with a two-child policy in the hope that it would raise the rapidly declining birth rate.
But since it failed to achieve the desired result, the Chinese government has gone one step further.
China Lifts 2-Child Policy; Chinese Couples Now Can Have Up to 3 Kids
China has now introduced a three-child policy, where married couples can have up to three children.
The new policy will help the country cope with an ageing population, Xinhua News Agency, China’s official state-run press agency, said.
The policy change will come with more supportive measures, including:
- Lower educational costs for families
- Ramped up tax and housing support
- Guaranteeing the legal interests of working women
- Clamping down on “sky high” dowries
- Educating young people on “marriage and love”
But, what’s to blame for this dramatic decline in China’s birth rate in the first place?
One word: high costs of raising children
Reader: That’s like five words.
High Costs of Raising Kids Putting Off Couples
Speaking to Reuters, Yifei Li, a sociologist at New York University (NYU) Shanghai, said that people are not held back by the two-children limit, but by the incredibly high costs of raising children in China today.
“Housing, extracurricular activities, food, trips, and everything else add up quickly,” she said.
In 2005, it cost around 490,000 yuan (S$101,150) for an ordinary family in China to raise a child. In 2020, the cost had risen to four times the amount—to 1.99 million yuan (over S$410,000).
When a poll was conducted on Xinhua’s Weibo account, asking #AreYouReady for the three-child policy, 29,000 of 31,000 respondents said they would “never think of it”.
One user said, “I am willing to have three children if you give me 5 million yuan (S$1 million).”
The poll was later taken down.
Some experts believe that the policy change has come too late. Based on recent data, China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020.
For an ageing population, it is far short of the 2.1 needed for replacement level.
And for a comparison: based on 2020 data, Singapore’s fertility rate is 1.10.
Feature Image: chuchiko17i / Shutterstock.com
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