Source：Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date：2017-3-8-
The Chinese government is working on financial incentives to encourage couples to have a second child, China Daily reports.
"Having a second child is the right of every Chinese family, but the heavy financial burden has become a bottleneck that hinders the realization of this right," said Wang Pei'an, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), at a social welfare conference, which was held on February 25.
In order to address the problems of couples who do not want a second child due to economic pressure, Wang said that the government is considering introducing supporting measures including "rewards and subsidies" to encourage couples to give birth to a second child.
China's universal ‘two-child' policy came into effect on January 1, 2016. The change brought about 17.8 million newborns in 2016, an increase of over 1.3 million on the previous year and hitting the biggest annual growth rate in two decades.
However, such an increase in population is not enough and China's birth rate is still far from the level of replacement fertility across the globe.
Replacement fertility refers to the total birth rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels, which is normally presented as being around 2.1 children per woman.
According to the 2016 China Statistical Yearbook by the National Bureau of Statistics, the total fertility rate of China in 2015 was only 1.047, even less than half of the world's level of replacement fertility.
"Heavy economic burdens (74.5 percent)", "spending too much energy (61.1 percent)" and "childcare problems (60.5 percent)" are the top three reasons leading to couples becoming reluctant to have another child.
Yang Wenzhuang, head of the Department of Community Family Planning at the NHFPC, said that according to previous surveys, the fact that childcare costs have accounted for nearly 50 percent of China's average family earnings and education spending is a major factor.
The rising cost of childcare may still be an important factor hindering families' decisions to have a second child. However, it is still the first time that the top authority has proposed such a measure to boost the birth rate.
The Statistical Bureau of Hunan Province also suggested in a report that the local government provide subsidies for two-child families, with a view to reversing the declining fertility rate.