More measures introduced to encourage childbirth

2023-03-23 13:11:47China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A nurse takes care of a newborn baby at Gansu Provincial Maternity and Childcare Hospital in Lanzhou. (Photo/Xinhua)

Weifang, Shandong province, will exempt senior middle school tuition fees for the third child in every family born after May 31, 2021, local officials announced on Tuesday at a news conference on optimizing policies encouraging families to have more children.

The tuition fee exemption is one of a series of measures released by the city to boost the birthrate. Others include subsidies for universal childcare services, house purchases and medical expenses for childbirth. The government is also optimizing maternity leave and encouraging employers to explore flexible working schedules for female workers.

The newly released measures have received a mixed response from the public with some welcoming the subsidies, while others say the tuition benefit is too little and too far off to make an impact.

"Is the child able to study in a senior middle school if he or she didn't pass the examination?" said one user mockingly on the Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo.

"The measures ... will create an environment that is more friendly to having more children. In the long run, these measures will be helpful in boosting the birthrate," said Xu Xiaolong, 46, who works at a State-owned enterprise in Weifang.

Among the measures, Weifang will offer a monthly subsidy of 300 yuan ($44) for childcare services for a second child and 400 yuan for a third child until the child turns 3. No less than 80 percent of the medical expenses for giving birth to a second child will be covered by medical insurance in Weifang, while giving birth to a third child, at least 90 percent will be covered.

Shandong province, with a population of over 100 million people, in 2022 recorded its lowest birthrate since 1983, according to statistics released by the Shandong Provincial Bureau of Statistics.

Cities in the province have been ramping up subsidies, and education and nursery care services to encourage families to have more children.

Jinan, capital of Shandong, announced in January that all families that have a second or third child will receive a subsidy of 600 yuan per month per child until the child turns 3.

"To boost the birthrate, authorities need to pay attention to the needs of families with only one child instead of only providing subsidies for couples with two or three children," said Gao Ming, 35, a resident of Qingdao.

"Whether young couples have a high willingness to have one more child depends mostly on their experience of raising the first child," she said, adding that she doesn't want to have a second child, even if Qingdao takes similar measures.


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