Families with more than one child who are on the waiting list for public rental apartments in Beijing's Chaoyang district will be allowed to skip the line and choose locations soon, the local government announced recently. It is considered to be the first such policy in the country designed to help encourage childbearing.
"The central government clearly required in July that local governments should carry out related supportive policies in sectors including housing, education and healthcare for the third-child policy," said Zhai Zhenwu, president of the China Population Association.
"Chaoyang district has implemented the policy in the housing sector, which is the first of its kind and has a guiding significance for other parts of the country," he said.
According to the district's announcement, among the families that qualified for public rental apartments before Sept 30 and are still on the waiting list, those with more than one child will no longer need to wait and can choose apartments from two residential projects.
Those families will still need to pay rent, but it will be much lower than the average market price.
The rent, which is calculated according to the size of the apartments, is from 1,915 yuan ($295) to 3,913 yuan per month.
"The new policy in Chaoyang has solved the real difficulties of families with more children, which should be encouraged," Zhai said. "It should be a trend that more districts in the capital will carry out similar policies to support the country's third-child regulations."
Zhai said different provinces have different approaches for encouraging childbearing. Among supportive policies being discussed are lower taxes for families with more than one child between infancy and age 3, and government subsidies for early education, he added.
Some policies have already been implemented. Panzhihua, a city in Sichuan province, announced in July that it would provide monthly subsidies of 500 yuan for each child in families with two or three children, until the children reach 3 years old.
Linze county of Zhangye, Gansu province, announced that it will give one-time housing subsidies of40,000 yuan to families with two or three children when the families purchase apartments.
Song Jian, a professor at the School of Sociology and Population Studies at Renmin University of China, said Chaoyang's new policy will help raise the willingness to have children. This is significant for Beijing, which has a relatively low birthrate, she said, adding, "It's definitely a beneficial policy that will bring positive effects to society."