Amid rising concerns over a declining national birthrate, China’s eastern county of Changshan is offering newlyweds a “reward” of $137 for brides who marry aged 25 or younger.
It’s the latest in a series of measures to encourage young people across the country to get married. The cash reward is meant to promote “age-appropriate marriage and childbearing”.
The notice also included a string of fertility, childcare and education subsidies for couples who have children. It remains to be seen how well the incentives perform.
Traditional Stereotypes Putting Women Off Having Children
Concerned about China’s ageing population and its first population drop in 60 years, authorities have been trying an array of measures including cash rewards and improved childcare facilities.
The legal age for marriage remains 20 for women and 22 for men in the country. But the number of couples choosing marriages has been falling, consequently driving down birthrates.
China saw 800,000 fewer marriages in 2022 than in the year before. Amid lowering marriage rates, the country’s fertility rate is estimated to have declined to a record low of 1.09 last year.
Gender discrimination, traditional stereotypes, high childcare costs and the possibility of stalling careers have put several Chinese women off having more children or any at all.
Additionally, the younger generation has also cited low consumer confidence and concerning health of the economy as key factors for not wanting to get married.
Fertility Policies Working Better In Scandinavian Countries
While China’s birthrate remains one of the lowest in the world, some of Asia’s other prominent economies have also been spending billions of dollars trying to reverse a similar trend.
Singapore, Japan and South Korea have lately been updating existing fertility policies or introducing new ones to encourage couples to have more children.
Most of these policies implemented across Asia share striking similarities, including payments for new parents, subsidised or free education and expanded parental leaves.
But such measures have worked better in Scandinavian countries than they did so far in Asia – primarily due to a more balanced gender gap, lesser childcare costs and a good welfare system.
It’s high time the world realised the underlying reasons behind a growing number of women expressing reluctance toward bearing children.