China Cities Offer Subsidies, up to 30 Days Leave to Boost Birth Rate

  • The Chinese city of Hangzhou is giving $2,900 to parents welcoming a third child this year.
  • Some other cities are giving almost 30 days of marriage leave to boost the birth rate.
  • China’s dealing with a demographic crisis as its population shrinks for the first time in 60 years.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and one of the world’s most populous countries, is trying to get its citizens to have more babies.

The government of Hangzhou, a tech hub in east China and home to e-commerce giant Alibaba, will be granting new parents 20,000 yuan, or $2,900, as a one-off subsidy for having a third child this year, according to the local media outlet Zhejiang Daily.

Those having a second child will receive about $720, the outlet added, citing a policy that was passed at a local government congress on Wednesday.

Wenzhou, a city in southeast China, is planning to offer would-be parents up to 3,000 yuan, or over $400 in subsidies per child, according to local government notices issued on February 15. Meanwhile, the northeastern city of Shenyang is offering subsidies of up to $72 a month till a child is three years old.

Some Chinese provinces like Shanghai and major coal producer Shanxi are also increasing the number of paid marriage leave days — or time off granted to couples to get married — to up to 30 days, according to Communist Party-owned news outlet People’s Daily Health. Chinese employees are typically entitled to three days of paid marriage leave.

The push for babies comes after China’s population started shrinking for the first time in six decades. An aging population will have profound implications for the future of China’s economy, labor force, and its healthcare system.

China’s not the only country trying to boost flagging birthrates with cash incentives. SingaporeSouth Korea, and Japan have similar programs.

However, China’s path to population increase is not that straightforward. 

Many Chinese millennials are not getting married in the first place due to a variety of reasons like costs and personal choices, Insider’s Matthew Loh reported in April 2022. It’s culturally unacceptable to have children out of wedlock in China.

“You need to go back to the things that have made marriage rates so low,” Professor Stuart Gietel-Basten, who specializes in population policy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, told Insider at the time. “If women are feeling: ‘This is such a bad move for my career or my life that I’m going to push it back as long as possible,’ then maybe that’s a symptom of other challenges, blockages, or malfunctions in society,” he said.

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