Increased efforts urged to encourage births as population growth slows

A medical team from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province treats patients in Aksu during a work tour in Xinjiang. [For China Daily/Yuan Huanhuan]

Demographers have called for more effective implementation of support measures to encourage births to cope with the country’s declining population growth, as reported in the recently released China Statistical Yearbook 2021.

The birth rate last year was 8.52 births per thousand people, the lowest level since 1978, according to the yearbook, which was compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics and released over the weekend.

The rate of natural increase – the difference between the birth rate and the death rate – has fallen to 1.45 per thousand, also the lowest rate in 43 years, according to the yearbook.

According to an article published in May in the journal Population Research, which is affiliated with the China Population and Development Research Center, the birth rate from January to September of last year fell 20 to 30 percent from the same period in 2015. However, the birth rate in November and December of last year fell 45% compared to the same period in 2015, mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zhai Zhenwu, director of the Center for Population Development Studies at Renmin University of China, said the decline in China’s birth rate is mainly due to the sharp decline in the number of women of childbearing age and to the reluctance of people to have more children.

The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to have a delayed and larger impact on the country’s birth rate this year, which is expected to decline further, he said.

Dong Yuzheng, director of the Guangdong Population Development Academy, said the combination of economic pressures and the impact of the pandemic had discouraged people from wanting to have children.

To meet the challenges of an aging population and declining fertility rates, China has adjusted its family planning policy to allow couples to have up to three children. Central authorities have also released a series of support measures, ranging from tax breaks and more flexible work leave to easier access to nurseries, schools and social housing, to ease the burden on parents raising children.

Zhai said that while negative population growth is an inevitable result of modernization and urbanization, effective and efficient implementation of policies can delay the process and give the country more time to minimize the impact on society. and the economy.

More efforts are needed to provide affordable nurseries for couples, reduce education costs and introduce supportive policies to minimize the impact of childbirth on women’s career development, he added.

The yearbook also says there were 8.14 million marriages registered last year, down 1.13 million from 2019. That number has been declining for seven consecutive years.

There were 5.88 million registered marriages in the first three quarters of this year, a drop of 17.5% from the same period last year, the Civil Affairs Ministry said.

According to a survey of 2,900 single people aged 18 to 26 conducted by a research center of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, 25 percent of those polled said they were unsure of get married, and 8.9 percent said they would not marry.

Forty-four percent of the women surveyed said they would not marry or had not made a decision about it. However, only 24 percent of the men surveyed gave the same answer. Researchers attribute the large disparity to the negative impact of raising a child on career opportunities and women’s development.

Last year, 4.34 million couples divorced, down 361,600 from 2019. The divorce rate, which has been on the rise for years, fell from 3.36% in 2019 to 3.09% in 2020, mainly due to the introduction of 30-day cooling. – rest period for couples seeking divorce.

The cooling-off period was included in the Civil Code, which entered into force on January 1. During this period, either party can withdraw the divorce petition.

(Source: China Daily)

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