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World’s Most Populous Nation Is Thinking About Paying People To Have More Children

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China is considering providing financial incentives to encourage people to have a second child, signaling a major shift from limiting births, to encouraging them.

More children probably seems like the last thing China needs. Despite having the world’s largest population, China has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. While that was once considered a good thing for the country that prided itself on its one-child policy, times have changed, and China needs its people to start reproducing.

The Chinese government is thinking about providing birth rewards and subsidies to parents that have a second child, reports the China Daily.

The birth rate rose to 17.86 million last year, the highest in over a decade. Towards the end of 2015, in a move to address population problems such as ageing and workforce reductions, China relaxed the one-child policy introduced in the 1970s to curb population growth. An estimated one-in-three Chinese people will be over 60 by 2050. Right now, the ratio is one-in-seven. China risks losing the workforce that has facilitated its meteoric rise.

Financial challenges, however, have made many Chinese families hesitant to have another child. A 2015 poll revealed that 60 percent of families cited economic constraints as the reason they were reluctant to have a second child.

“Barriers still exist and must be addressed,” Wang Pei’an, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, explained at a state social welfare conference Saturday. “To have a second child is the right of each family in China, but affordability has become a bottleneck that undermines the decision.”

The proposal represents a hard shift from the policies of the past, where families were penalized, through fines, forced abortions, and other punishments, for having more than one child.

Some observers suggest that subsidies would fail to produce the desired results.

In addition to putting a strain on the government to pay for a baby boom, there is no guarantee that parents would risk having a second child, even if the government offered to provide financial assistance.

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Tags : china
Ryan Pickrell