left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

Looking to the new generation

Updated: 2016-03-09 07:23
By Shan Juan (China Daily)

Looking to the new generation

A nurse at a hospital in Xiangyang, Hubei province, helps Chen Jing to breast-feed her second child on Friday.[Photo by Gong Bo / Provide to China Daily]

The government is preparing to further deepen reform of the national policy on planned parenthood to ensure a stable workforce and continued growth. Shan Juan reports.

Whether or not to have a second child has become a burning and urgent question for millions of Chinese couples who recently became eligible to have two children under the terms of China's revised family planning policy.

Li Liangyu, a 36-year-old working mother in Beijing, has been discussing the issue with husband since December, when the central government announced the universal second-child policy.

"It needs an urgent answer and action because my fertility is declining due to age, but it's hard," said Li, whose 7-year-old daughter entered grade school in the fall.

Money is tight for Li and her husband. Although they are both employed by government institutions and have a combined monthly income of nearly 25,000 yuan ($3,800), their mortgage repayment is 8,000 yuan per month and they pay 3,000 yuan for after-school activities every four weeks.

Like many children, Li's daughter attends a range of after-school activities, such as learning to play the piano, painting and dancing, which puts further strain on their budget. "With no other source of income, I'm afraid that we can't afford to have a second child and maintain the same standard of living," Li said.

The quandary is even more difficult for residents of mega-cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where a lack of quality educational resources means parents are often required to pay extremely high prices to buy a home in an area with good schools.

"It's like hell when my son falls ill," said Liu Min, a 28-year-old mother who is pregnant with her second child. "It's always so crowed at the children's hospital, and you are lucky to see the doctor after a three-hour wait."

According to government estimates, China will see a maximum 9 million more babies in the next three years. "But is the country actually ready to welcome them and treat them well?" Liu asked.

"I would only compromise my present standard of living, such as missing out on an overseas vacation every year, to have a second baby. I want my boy to have a companion to grow up with," she said.

The potential strain on family finances has led many couples to abandon the idea of having a second child. According to a 2014 survey conducted in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, the cost of raising a child until after university averages 2 million yuan in tier-one cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

At the end of 2013, the government made the first move to ease the decades-old policy that restricted most couples to one child. Although the revised rules allowed couples to have another baby providing one partner was an only child, less than 10 percent of newly eligible couples had filed an application by the end of 2014, according to statistics released by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Wang Pei'an, the commission's deputy director, urged other government agencies, such as the ministries of education, finance, and human resources and social security, to draw up favorable measures and policies to encourage larger families.

Previous Page 1 2 3 Next Page

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.