Big­ger fam­i­lies to be re­warded

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA - By Zhang Hui

China may re­ward fam­i­lies with a sec­ond child or more next year to ar­rest its drop­ping fer­til­ity rate, and the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy will un­dergo fun­da­men­tal changes, Chi­nese de­mog­ra­phers said.

Their re­marks came af­ter re­ports that China’s Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion (NHC) is study­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of re­ward­ing fam­i­lies with more chil­dren.

The NHC has put to­gether a group of ex­perts to cal­cu­late the ef­fect of in­cen­tives to im­prov­ing fer­til­ity, with the study likely to be com­pleted by the end of the year, news site thep­a­per.cn re­ported Wednes­day.

Al­though not im­me­di­ately con­firmed by the NHC as of press time, de­mog­ra­phers in­ter­viewed by the Global Times on Thurs­day said that they be­lieve China may in­tro­duce in­cen­tives to fam­i­lies the next year, if not sooner, con­sid­er­ing the drop in new births.

De­mog­ra­pher He Yafu told the Global Times that the NHC’s study was said to only tar­get fam­i­lies hav­ing a sec­ond child and not those with three or more chil­dren, and it’s very likely that China will of­fi­cially in­tro­duce the pol­icy next year.

How­ever, ex­perts noted that even if China fur­ther re­laxes the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy, the re­sult would be lim­ited in the short term be­cause of the younger gen­er­a­tion’s re­luc­tance to have a sec­ond child.

Liang Jianzhang, an ap­plied eco­nomics pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity, told the Global Times on Thurs­day that China needs to in­tro­duce stronger in­cen­tives to fam­i­lies to have more chil­dren.

“Even if China aban­dons its fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy next year, it won’t help im­prove China’s low fer­til­ity rate,” Liang said, cit­ing the high cost of rais­ing chil­dren.

China fer­til­ity rate was 1.7 in 2016, and the China Sta­tis­ti­cal Year­book 2017 is­sued by the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics failed to dis­close the fer­til­ity rate.

“The fun­da­men­tal pol­icy is di­rect sub­sidy and lower taxes, and China should use at least 2 to 5 per­cent of its GDP to re­ward fam­i­lies so that their fer­til­ity may rise to a rel­a­tively bet­ter level,” Liang said.

China’s GDP was 80 tril­lion yuan ($11.9 tril­lion) in 2017, the Xinhua News Agency re­ported.

And 5 per­cent means each of the coun­try’s around 200 mil­lion chil­dren could get an av­er­age of 10,000 yuan a year, Liang ex­plained.

North­east China’s Liaon­ing Prov­ince is the first prov­ince to in­tro­duce in­cen­tives to have two chil­dren.

The pop­u­la­tion de­vel­op­ment plan (2016-30) it is­sued last week said that the provin­cial govern­ment will im­prove poli­cies on per­sonal taxes, ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial wel­fare and hous­ing to pro­vide more in­cen­tives to a fam­ily of four in or­der to lighten the load of rais­ing chil­dren.

Ex­perts noted that Liaon­ing’s pol­icy is likely to be adopted across the coun­try, but with even stronger in­cen­tives.

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