The world’s most populous country is now facing a demographic crisis, with an aging workforce, a sluggish economy and the slowest population growth in decades.
Although authorities scrapped the one-child policy in 2016, allowing up to three children per couple, births have continued to decline over the past five years.
On Tuesday, the health ministry called on central and local authorities to spend more on reproductive health and improve childcare services. These services are inadequate in the country.
The ministry said local authorities should “take active fertility support measures” through subsidies, tax breaks and better health insurance, as well as education, housing and employment assistance for families.
Provinces must also ensure that there is an adequate number of day care centers for children between the ages of two and three by the end of the year.
China’s wealthiest cities have already introduced housing loans, tax breaks, education subsidies and subsidies to encourage women to have more children. The orders issued today seem to want to extend this policy to the entire region.
China’s birth rate fell to 7.52 children per 1,000 people last year, the lowest since records began in 1949, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
The high cost of living and the tendency for smaller families are among the reasons for this decline in births. In early August, health officials warned that China’s population could decline by 2025.