Report says China is one of the most expensive places in the world to raise children

(CNN) — China is one of the most expensive places in the world to raise a child by comparison, and the country’s fertility rate is skyrocketing due to a disproportionate impact on women as it grapples with a demographic crisis, a new report says. Is.

The study released Wednesday by the China-based Yuwa Population Research Institute found that the nationwide average cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 was about $74,800, compared to $94,500 to support a child through a bachelor’s degree. Exceeded.

The report said the cost of raising a child to age 18 in China is 6.3 times the country’s per capita GDP, a ratio second only to its East Asian neighbor South Korea, which has the highest fertility rate in the world. is low and where it is lowest. The cost of raising children is 7.79 times per capita GDP.

Chinese population

A child travels on a scooter with his parents in Beijing, China on September 13, 2023. (Credit: Kevin Fryer/Getty Images)

For comparison, the report says the cost is only 2.08 times per capita GDP in Australia, 2.24 times in France, 4.11 times in the United States and 4.26 times in Japan, another eastern country. Asia has been struggling for a long time with rapidly increasing population and declining birth rate.

“Due to factors such as the high cost of having children and the difficulty for women in balancing family and work, Chinese people’s desire to have children is among the lowest in the world,” the report said. Native Population The current demographic situation as the decline of.

China’s population has declined over the past two years, and the birth rate in 2023 is the lowest since the founding of communist China in 1949. Last year, China overtook India as the world’s most populous country.

The demographic crisis threatens to have a significant impact on the world’s second-largest economy, and has deepened in recent years despite efforts by authorities to reverse the trend after decades of restrictive policies regarding birth rates.

Although the government has relaxed its limits on the number of children per couple, launched a national campaign to encourage families to have more children, and offered financial incentives, little has changed, partly because For many women, the sacrifice is simply not enough nor is it worth the reward, according to Young’s report.

According to the report, women taking maternity leave may face “unfair treatment” at work, such as being transferred to other teams, taking a pay cut or missing out on promotion opportunities.

She said if the costs of maternity leave were entirely borne by companies without government support, employers could avoid hiring women of childbearing age, as is already widely seen in China. , there are reports of women being asked or passed over about family planning during job interviews. Pursue roles, even if they don’t plan on having kids.

And although some women stop working altogether while raising children, this makes it incredibly difficult to return to the workforce. According to the report, citing research from several articles, women who have children may see a decline of between 12% and 17% in their salaries.

These sacrifices may have become more common in recent decades, but Chinese women are more educated and economically independent than ever before, and they now outnumber men in higher education programs. Experts have previously said that with so much progress made in recent years, women are prioritizing their careers and self-development over traditional milestones like marriage and childbearing.

Then there is the cost of time, labor and money in raising a child.

Research shows that in China, women are primarily responsible for household tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping, as well as child care, including school management, homework help and tutoring.

Citing a 2018 article, the report said this means women lose about five hours of leisure and paid work time per day, and almost all of those hours are spent on household chores. Are. While fathers also lose some free time, their paid work hours do not change significantly and their careers are not significantly affected, Yuva reports.

“Because the current social environment in China is not conducive to women’s childbearing, the time costs and opportunity costs of having children are very high for women,” the report said. “Some women have to give up having children in exchange for the opportunity to succeed in their careers.”

China’s economy will grow 5.2% in 2023, slightly better than the official target set by Beijing. But the country faces a number of challenges, including a record housing crisis, rising youth unemployment, deflationary pressures, rising corporate defaults and increasing financial strains on local governments.

The report warns that falling birth rates could have a profound impact on economic growth, people’s overall happiness and China’s global standing.

The authors urged national policies to reduce childbearing costs “as quickly as possible”, such as cash, tax and housing subsidies, equal maternity and paternity leave, protection of single women’s reproductive rights, and educational reforms.

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