HONG KONG (Reuters) – China will launch pilot projects in more than 20 cities to create a “new-age” maternity and marriage culture to foster an environment conducive to motherhood, the latest move by authorities to boost the decline in the country birth rate.
The China Family Planning Association, a national body that implements the government’s population and fertility measures, will launch the projects to encourage women to marry and have children, the state-backed Global Times reported on Monday.
Promoting marriage, having children at the right age, encouraging parents to share child-rearing responsibilities and curbing high “bride prices” and other outdated customs are the focus of the projects, the Times said.
Cities included in the pilot include manufacturing hub Guangzhou and Handan in China’s Hebei province. The association has already launched projects in 20 cities, including Beijing, last year, the Times said.
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“Society needs to educate young people more about the concept of marriage and childbirth,” demographer He Yafu told the Times.
The projects come amid a series of measures Chinese provinces are implementing to encourage people to have children, including tax breaks, housing subsidies and free or subsidized education for having a third child.
China implemented a rigid one-child policy from 1980 to 2015, the root of many of its demographic challenges that have enabled India to become the world’s most populous nation. Since then, the limit has been raised to three children.
Concerned by China’s first population decline in six decades and its rapid aging, government policy advisers proposed in March that single and unmarried women should have access to egg freezing and IVF treatment, among other services. to boost the country’s fertility rate.
Many women have been discouraged from having more or no children due to the cost of childcare and having to leave their careers, and gender discrimination remains a key obstacle.
(Reporting by Farah Master and Beijing Writing; Editing by Sonali Paul)
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