China on May 31 officially announced the implementation of the three-child policy and relevant social support measures to further optimize childbirth policies.
China has progressively rolled out family planning policies for decades starting with the promotion of the one-child policy in 1980. Six years ago, it was modified with the introduction of the two-child policy.
According to the Seventh National Population Census conducted in 2020, as a result of the two-child policy, the proportion of children ages 0-14 increased from 16.6 percent to 17.95 percent in the past decade. The sex ratio of male to female at birth dropped from 118:100 in 2013 to around 111:100 in 2020.
China currently demands strong human capital to support economic transition. But the population has been rapidly aging in recent decades, a phenomenon which may lead to a labor shortage. It is estimated that senior citizens (aged above 60) will account for more than 30 percent of total population by 2035. The three-child policy may further curve the demographic crisis and play a role in social development on the basis of the two-child policy.
To assure an adequate social infrastructure for women and families, the government will move forward to comprehensively enhance the social insurance system.
Plans include promoting high-quality schools and equality in education, lowering the cost of education, improving leave and birth insurance policies, passing housing and tax reform, and providing birth allowances for parents who were single children of their original families and for rural families with two girls.
For example, starting from 2021, Shanghai has become the second region in China after a few cities in Guangdong, to provide unmarried women with maternity insurance.
But some still forecast challenges despite the growing progress in birth policy.
“With the new birth policy, women in the workplace will have more limitations in career advancement, since employers will take their birth status into consideration,” said Zhang Jun from Shaanxi Gender Development Solution.
Women are marrying and giving birth older, and more women choose not to get married at all. Registered marriage went from 13.4 million in 2013 to 8.13 million in 2020, a 40-percent decrease. Some are also less willing to have children, citing reasons such as “heavy economic burdens.”