China has renewed the push to create a “new era” of marriage and childbearing culture after recording a population decline for the first time in 2022.
China’s Family Planning Association, a national body that implements the government’s population and fertility measures, is launching pilot projects in more than 20 cities with the aim of creating social environments that encourage young people to marry and have children, China’s ruling party-controlled newspaper Global Times reported on May 14.
During an event held in Guangzhou, which is one of the 20 cities, association officials said they’d focus on promoting marrying and having children among young people, encouraging parents to share child-rearing responsibilities, as well as curbing high “bride prices”—the dowry groom’s parents pay to the bride’s family which average $20,000 in some provinces—and other outdated customs.
Before this round of cultural reset, 20 other cities, including Beijing, had already started on such campaigns in 2022.
China’s population problem, explained
Weddings in China are declining, recording in 2021 the lowest rate since 1985. The one-child policy implemented from 1980 until 2015, was relaxed to two children in 2016 and three in 2021, but people are still not having more kids.
China’s population is on track to drop below 1 billion by 2080, and below 800 million by 2100. As the scales tip, China’s declining working age population will have to fund social security benefits for its vast 60-plus population.
Charted: China’s falling birth rate
One small number: Fertility rate
1.2: China’s total fertility rate, or TFR—the number of children a woman is expected to have over her lifetime—is one of the lowest in the world. In the US and the UK, the TFR is 1.7 and 1.6 respectively. In India, whose population recently beat China’s, the TFR is 2.
Date of interest: May 20
Civil affairs agencies in several cities around China have announced that they will remain open for marriage registrations on May 20. Many Chinese couples already choose the date for marriage registry because “520” sounds similar to “I love you” in Chinese.
A non-exhaustive list of incentives the Chinese government is giving families to have more kids
💰 Shenzhen will offer families having a third child or more a cash allowance of 19,000 yuan ($2,825) in total until the child reaches the age of 3, according to draft rules released by the city’s health authority in January.
🏫In the city of Weifang in the eastern province of Shandong—China’s second-most populous province—families with three children will be eligible for free high school education in addition to the country’s nine-year free compulsory education, according to domestic media reports.
🏠 In the eastern city of Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, permanent residents with two or three children under the age of 18 are eligible for a subsidy of up to 300 yuan ($45) per square meter when buying a house. Hangzhou, which is located in northwestern Zhejiang province, is offering a one-time 5,000 ($727) yuan subsidy for families with two children, and 20,000 yuan ($2,907). It also loosened purchase restrictions to do with the number of housing units that can be purchased for families with more kids. Leshan in the southwestern Sichuan province provides 5,000 yuan for each newly built commercial house purchase to families with two children or more.
🤰The government’s political advisers have proposed that single and unmarried women should have access to egg freezing and IVF treatment.
💼The state council encourages employers to allow flexible hours and the option to work from home for employees with children.
🧒 China’s propaganda journey from “only one child is good” to the three-child policy
🎊 Marriages in China have hit a 36-year low