AGENCY – In a bid to increase its population and further help the country’s labour force, China is giving incentives such as tax and housing credits, educational benefits and even cash to encourage women to have more children.
According to Global Times in January this year, the population of the Chinese mainland at the end of 2021 was 1.413 billion and the number of newborns in the Chinese mainland dropped to 10.62 million in 2021, close to the number of deaths. The control over childbirth and its suppression of women’s rights are making it difficult for some aspiring parents to start a family.
For decades, the Chinese Communist Party forced abortions and sterilizations on women as part of its one-child policy. Following this, the country is witnessing a demographic crisis, now it wants women to have more than one baby-and preferably three.
New York Times reported that officials have been doling out tax and housing credits, educational benefits and even cash incentives to encourage women to have more children. It is to be noted that the perks are available only to married couples.
Despite it, Beijing is still dictating who can have babies, and discriminating against single women and minorities through draconian family planning policies. According to New York Times, babies born to single parents in China have long struggled to receive social benefits like medical insurance and education. Women who are single and pregnant are regularly denied access to public health care and insurance that covers maternity leave. They are not legally protected if employers fire them for being pregnant.
“Many people think that being a single mom is a process of confrontation with public opinion, but it’s not,” 46-year-old single parent Sarah Gao said. When Gao found out that she was pregnant, she had to tell doctors a lie that her husband was overseas to be admitted, as per New York Times.
She further narrates that after her daughter was born in 2016, she was fired from her job, prompting her to file a lawsuit accusing the company of workplace discrimination. The Chinese court had said that her unmarried birth “did not conform to China’s national policy.”
Meanwhile, the number of births in the eastern Chinese city of Wuhu has fallen to “an extremely low level”, according to media reports. If birth rates continue to decline, the labour force in China will also shrink dramatically in the coming years as the number of young people in the country is declining.
Furthermore, due to Chinese women’s increased educational and economic development, their propensity to marry is even lower than that of males. Last year, Beijing issued a new Population and Family Planning Law that allows Chinese couples to have three children, ostensibly responding to couples’ unwillingness to have additional children due to rising costs. (ANI)