F.In the future, amilies in China should no longer pay fines if they have more children than the state stipulates. This emerges from a decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council, which was published on Wednesday. This ends a policy that has driven many families into financial ruin since the 1980s. Penalties were often imposed that far exceeded the annual income of families.
In May of this year, China officially abolished its two-child policy and introduced a three-child policy. Now it is said that families with four or more children should no longer be punished in the future. When applying for jobs, the number of children should no longer play a role, it says in the document.
In the past, government officials and employees of state-owned companies could be fired if they had more children than allowed. In addition, children should in future have unlimited access to schools even if they already have three siblings. In the past, such children were often only able to attend private schools. The Family Planning Act is now to be changed accordingly.
The Chinese leadership also announced numerous measures designed to stop the decline in birth rates in recent years. Among other things, the compatibility of work and family is to be improved. By 2025, 90 percent of all children should have access to kindergartens. Crèche places for children under the age of three are also to be expanded significantly, as is the training of educators. So far, childcare in China has often been done by unskilled workers. Primary schools should add two hours to their daily classes, and employers should offer more flexible working hours. Existing rules on parental leave should be strictly adhered to, which has often not been the case so far.
Birth rate has been falling since 2016
The package of measures, which is still vague on many points, also includes tax breaks for parents of children under three and preferential access for parents to social housing. The high rents and real estate prices in China’s metropolises are among the most important reasons why many young couples only want to have one child or no children at all. The high educational costs are another reason, especially for expensive extracurricular courses. The government has therefore announced that it will strongly regulate the booming market for such educational offers.
The National Health Commission is nevertheless assuming a further decline in the birth rate for the current year, which has been falling since 2016. Studies have also shown that families wanted to have fewer than two children on average over the long term, the commission announced on Wednesday. Chinese leaders are increasingly concerned about the rapidly aging society. It puts a strain on the social systems. In the course of the new family promotion policy, the Communist Party is again increasingly propagating a traditional image of the family.