The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare hopes that the promise of more money in the bank would motivate more individuals to have a family in Japan, which has been battling for some time to boost its low and decreasing birth rate.
The current Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant for new parents in Japan is 420,000 yen. Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato wants to increase the sum to 500,000 yen.
He met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week to discuss the plan, which is likely to be approved and implemented for the spring 2023 fiscal year.
However, while such an increase in the grant amount is unlikely to discourage anybody from having children, it may not be particularly helpful either. Even though it’s termed the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant, very little, if any, remains after the “Childbirth” portion.
Despite the fact that the award is supported through Japan’s public medical insurance system, child birth charges are paid out-of-pocket; the Mainichi Shimbun reports that the national average delivery cost is roughly 473,000 yen.
Even if the grant is raised, parents will have, on average, less than 30,000 yen after they get home from the hospital. This is less than the amount Asahi Breweries is gifting its employees to dine out over the holiday season.
It’s unlikely that an 80,000-yen raise will be sufficient to overcome anyone’s make-or-break threshold for having a kid, given the entire costs of bringing a child to independence.
Yes, it is true that in Japan, cautious views regarding the ability to financially provide for one’s children are detrimental to childbearing.
The primary issue, however, appears to be a lack of confidence among would-be parents in their capacity to earn enough to support their family while simultaneously maintaining a happy and successful work-life balance during their child’s formative years.
That’s a difficult tightrope to walk in Japanese culture, and concerns about being able to do so are a considerably larger role in the country’s low birth rate than the cost of childbirth.
The 80,000-yen increase would be the greatest ever and the first since 2009 for the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant.