Raising a child costs more in China than in the United States and Japan – research

Children at a playground inside a shopping complex in Shanghai, China June 1, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

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SHANGHAI, Feb 23 (Reuters) – The cost of raising a child in China is nearly seven times its GDP per capita, far more than in the United States and Japan, highlighting the challenges facing Chinese policymakers as they try to tackle the rapid decline in births. rate, new research has shown.

Experts warn that China’s aging population will put enormous pressure on its health and social security system, while a shrinking workforce could also severely limit the growth of the world’s second-largest economy in the decades to come. to come.

Although new policies allow families to have up to three children, China’s birth rate fell to 7.52 births per 1,000 people in 2021, the lowest since the National Bureau of Statistics began reporting. record the data in 1949. read more

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The exorbitant costs of raising children have helped spur Beijing to clamp down on the tutoring industry, while some regions have given couples money to have a second or third child.

The Beijing-based YuWa Population Research Institute said in a report on Tuesday that the average cost of raising a child to age 18 in China in 2019 was 485,000 yuan ( $76,629) for a first child, or 6.9 times China’s GDP per capita. year.

China ranks second among the 13 countries included in the study, behind South Korea, which has the lowest birth rate in the world. The US figure, based on 2015 data, was 4.11 times GDP per capita, while Japan’s figure, based on 2010 data, was 4.26.

Child-rearing costs are even higher in major Chinese cities, reaching over 1 million yuan in Shanghai and 969,000 yuan in Beijing. Birth rates in both cities are even lower than the national average.

A mother, writing under the username “Maning” on China’s Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo, said she thought the costs of raising children in Beijing were likely even higher than what the report suggested.

“With such calculations, I can hardly imagine a second child and any family that wants a third is just amazing,” she said.

YuWa warned that the declining birth rate would “deeply affect” China’s economic growth potential, its ability to innovate and its social burden.

China should spend at least 5% of its annual GDP to create incentives for couples to have more children, including education subsidies, preferential mortgage rates, tax breaks, paternity leave and motherhood equals, as well as building more daycares, he added.

On Weibo, another user writing as Lawyer Zhang said action needed to be taken to address the disproportionate burden faced by women, who are expected to give birth and raise children as part of their “motherhood.” “natural.

“That’s why the cost of childbirth is mostly borne by women, which makes women live a long time in an unfair competitive environment.”

($1 = 6.3292 yuan)

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Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Shivani Singh

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