Chinese regions introduce family-friendly policies to boost birth rate Chinese regions introduce family-friendly policies to boost birth rate

Chinese regions introduce family-friendly policies to boost birth rate
03 Aug 2018

Some regions of China have introduced family-friendly policies, which include extending maternity leave and rewarding couples for having a second child, in a bid to improve the country’s low birth rate.

Shihezi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has recently adopted five new policies for families with two children, Mr Zhou the director of the maternity insurance department of the Shihezi Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, told the Global Times

Maternity leave for women who have a second child has been extended from 98 to 128 days, and prenatal examinations during working hours are also included in work hours, he said. 

"These policies ensure that women need not worry about paying during pregnancy and maternity leave, even if the company they are working for are not profitable, as the social insurance will cover it," Zhou added. "But encouraging more births requires comprehensive policies from other government agencies, such as education policies." 

Over the last year, 30 regions in China have extended paid maternity leave to up to a year. Some cities have also granted subsidies to families of four. Yichang in Central China's Hubei Province now offers free child delivery services to women having a second child, while Xiantao in Hubei even gives couples 1,200 yuan (US$179) for giving birth to a second child.

But He Yafu, a demographer, told the Global Times that these policies would only have a very limited effect on boosting the birth rate as China still penalises families that have three or more children. Such penalties have created the misconception that more births would harm the country's development, he told ECNS.

"The government should immediately abandon 'social maintenance fees,' which are used to fine people for violating the family planning policy," he said, suggesting that penalties against civil servants or employees from public institutions should also be removed. 

China has not yet released its 2017 fertility rates. But in 2016 it was 1.7, a level that experts have said is “on the red line” going by the Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Some regions of China have introduced family-friendly policies, which include extending maternity leave and rewarding couples for having a second child, in a bid to improve the country’s low birth rate.

Shihezi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has recently adopted five new policies for families with two children, Mr Zhou the director of the maternity insurance department of the Shihezi Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, told the Global Times

Maternity leave for women who have a second child has been extended from 98 to 128 days, and prenatal examinations during working hours are also included in work hours, he said. 

"These policies ensure that women need not worry about paying during pregnancy and maternity leave, even if the company they are working for are not profitable, as the social insurance will cover it," Zhou added. "But encouraging more births requires comprehensive policies from other government agencies, such as education policies." 

Over the last year, 30 regions in China have extended paid maternity leave to up to a year. Some cities have also granted subsidies to families of four. Yichang in Central China's Hubei Province now offers free child delivery services to women having a second child, while Xiantao in Hubei even gives couples 1,200 yuan (US$179) for giving birth to a second child.

But He Yafu, a demographer, told the Global Times that these policies would only have a very limited effect on boosting the birth rate as China still penalises families that have three or more children. Such penalties have created the misconception that more births would harm the country's development, he told ECNS.

"The government should immediately abandon 'social maintenance fees,' which are used to fine people for violating the family planning policy," he said, suggesting that penalties against civil servants or employees from public institutions should also be removed. 

China has not yet released its 2017 fertility rates. But in 2016 it was 1.7, a level that experts have said is “on the red line” going by the Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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