According to official figures, China’s population has increased by about 72 million in the past decade, with an average annual growth rate of 0.53 percent, the lowest in six decades. As family size continues to shrink, some population experts say authorities must encourage childbearing by offering large cash incentives, but some mainland residents say monetary incentives alone are not feasible and that reform of the entire social welfare system is needed.
China had about 12 million births last year, and population economist Liang Jianzhang of Peking University said China’s fertility rate will fall further in the next few years, with the number of newborns dropping below 10 million. China’s fertility rate is likely to fall to the lowest in the world unless a strong policy to encourage fertility is implemented.
Liang suggests that the government should reward RMB 1 million for each child born.
According to Liang, “The future child, probably his lifetime income may exceed 10 million, if according to 20 percent of this larger proportion of social security or income tax, his contribution to social security or finance is much more than 1 million, this part of social security and financial contribution is to benefit not only families with children, but families without children. “
He said, 1 million yuan is actually not much at all, because in China’s big cities, the direct cost of raising a child from birth to college graduation is much more than that. And that figure will rise in the future as housing prices and education costs rise.
According to Liang’s projections, if China were to maintain a minimum of 10 million newborns per year, the additional expenses would require a minimum of 1 billion RMB per year.
Huang Wenzheng, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) who is himself a demographer, believes that heavy rewards to encourage childbirth must be targeted.
Huang Wenzheng: “We should reward those who give birth to a lot. If only one, you give him so much money may not be too necessary, but if three or four, to the back of the progressive reward. I think this will work better, so that those who have hesitated to give birth to more, more efficient in terms of input and output ratio. The money is used to subsidize those who give birth to more, to encourage them to give birth to more, I think the effect may be a little better.”
Huang said the incentives may have limited appeal to China’s big cities.
Huang: “In places like Beijing and Shanghai, even if you give them a million dollars, they won’t (give birth). Housing prices are very high, the pressure on education is very high, and the small number of children has made the parenting model very extravagant. Each child carries the hope of the whole family, and it becomes more and more of a vicious circle.”
Liaoning resident : What can a million solve?
For economic and historical reasons, the aging population in the three northeastern provinces is higher than China’s national average. According to Jiang Jiawen, a resident of Liaoning, a million would undoubtedly be attractive to some, but more people might think further ahead.
Jiang Jiawen: “Raising a child from birth to adulthood at the age of 18, 200,000 to 300,000 yuan is not enough under the current standard of living, growing up and getting married and not being able to afford a house, graduating from college and not being able to find a job, and having to nibble on old age. To buy a house and a car, what can a million solve?”
Demographers have argued in the past that China’s childcare services are not keeping pace with the high level of urbanization, affecting the public’s consideration of childbirth. The growing cost of health care has also deterred many people from having children.
Jiang Jiawen: “You can’t fool some people by giving them a few bucks for a while. After the birth of medical care and not free. A child born a serious illness, a million is not enough to send the hospital, so that the root of the problem, first solve the problem of free education, free medical care, the problem of old age.”
Population economist Liang Jianzhang also agrees that encouraging childbirth is a very complex and comprehensive social engineering, involving education reform or real estate policy reform, which takes time. And increasing family subsidies and using real money to give more benefits to families with children will only have a faster effect.