SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is considering introducing birth rewards and subsidies to encourage people to have a second child, after surveys showed that economic constraints were making many reluctant to expand families, the state-owned China Daily newspaper reported.
The potential move was revealed by Wang Peian, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission at a social welfare conference on Saturday, the newspaper said on Tuesday.
Birth rates rose to 17.86 million in 2016, the highest level since 2000, after the country issued new guidelines in late 2015 allowing all parents to have two children amid growing concerns over the costs of supporting an aging population.
“That fully met the expectations, but barriers still exist and must be addressed,” Wang was quoted as saying.
“To have a second child is the right of each family in China but affordability has become a bottleneck that undermines the decision.”
A poll conducted by the commission in 2015 found that 60 percent of families surveyed were reluctant to have a second baby largely due to financial constraints.
China’s birth rate, one of the world’s lowest, is fast becoming a worry for authorities, rather than the achievement it was considered at a time when the government feared over-population.
China began implementing its controversial “one-child policy” in the 1970s in order to limit population growth, but authorities are now concerned that the country’s dwindling workforce will not be able to support an increasingly aging population.
Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Michael Perry