Officials in an eastern Chinese county have unveiled a unique incentive for prospective brides to counteract the region’s plummeting birth rate.
A novel strategy: Changshan County is offering young brides a cash incentive of 1,000 yuan (approximately $137) if they marry at the age of 25 or younger.
The announcement, made through the county’s official WeChat account last week, seeks to encourage “age-appropriate marriage and childbearing” for first-time unions.
Other incentives: The move marks the latest effort in the country to encourage young couples to enter into matrimony and have children. The initiative also includes an array of childcare, fertility and education subsidies tailored for couples who already have children.
Critics of the initiative, however, remain skeptical about the effectiveness of the policy, attributing their doubts to the relatively modest monetary incentive.
Past initiatives: Numerous local authorities across China have rolled out a variety of incentives aimed at stimulating the birth rate in recent years. However, most of these initiatives have concentrated on encouraging couples to expand their families with second and third children.
Due to the steady decline in the frequency of unions, experts have urged officials to broaden their focus by implementing policies that explicitly target couples contemplating their first child. Experts have noted that economic factors, including the high cost of child-rearing, gender discrimination and stringent government regulations regarding childbirth for single women, have deterred many women from marriage and parenthood.
A demographic crisis: China’s demographic landscape has been marked by mounting concerns following the end of a strict three-decades-long one-child policy in 2015.
Even though the policy has been relaxed to permit families to have up to three children, recent reports indicate that the fertility rate hit an unprecedented low of 1.09 in 2022, exacerbating the nation’s demographic crisis.
In January, it was revealed that China’s population dropped from 1.413 billion in 2021 to 1.412 billion in 2022, the first decline since 1961. Government data released in June revealed that marriage rates have also nosedived to a historic low of 6.8 million in 2022, 800,000 fewer marriages compared to 2021. The figure is the lowest tally since 1986.