The latest data from China’s local statistical authorities points to ongoing declines in birthrates despite the recent cancellation of the country’s long-standing one child policy.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics has recently called for all of its local departments to undertake an investigation into the impact of the cancellation of the one child policy and the launch of a “comprehensive two child policy” throughout the country on demographic changes in the first half of 2018.
Initial data indicates that the policy shift has done little to stymie demographic decline in many parts of China according to a report from 21st Century Business Herald.
Nanping municipality in Fujian province posted 14,834 live births in the first half of 2018 for a year-on-year decline of 17.23%, while a survey of 16 hospitals found nearly 11,792 births, for a YoY decline of 15.51%.
The percentage of second-child births in Nanping municipality also saw a decline despite remaining comparatively high.
Other parts of China have seen similar conditions, with the XIanyang statistics authority in Shaanxi province report a YoY decline in first child births of 15% in the first half of 2018, and a 7.3% decline in second child births.
An analysis from the Xianyang authority outlined three key reasons for low levels of willingness to have a second child amongst local families:
i) Livings pressure, and high costs for medical treatment and education of children;
ii) Changes in attitudes towards reproduction and greater emphasis upon the pursuit of a better life, as opposed to the traditional concept that a larger number of children is a blessing;
iii) The impact of the two child policy on rates of reproduction in rural areas is limited, and those rural residents who wish to have a second child policy do so irrespective of policy.
Luo Yuanwen (罗元文), a researcher with the demographics research institute of Liaoning University, said that key reasons for declining second child birth-rates include high housing prices and high education expenditures.
The latest raft of data has prompted calls from authorities for a the launch of policies to bolster China’s reproduction rates.
The statistics department for Zaoyang municipality in Hubei province has called for paid maternity leave for working mothers, while the department for Nanping municipality has called for subsidiaries for second children, as well as maternity leave for as long as six months.
Other suggestions mooted by Chinese authorities include the provision of subsidies to those families raising children in rental housing.