Heilongjiang policies to encourage more babies
Northeast China's Heilongjiang province has rolled out a series of preferential policies to increase people's willingness to have more children.
The Standing Committee of the Heilongjiang Provincial People's Congress passed a revised regulation on population and family planning recently, stipulating that employers should set up a system of parental leave for working parents, allowing them to have more time to take care of their young children.
According to the regulation, both the father and mother of a child under age 3 will have parental leave of 10 days each year, during which they will still be paid.
The regulation also requires city-and county-level governments to provide childcare subsidies to families with two or more children.
In addition, the regulation encourages more day care centers to be established for children aged 2 and 3 to reduce working parents' burden of raising children.
Zhang Hongming, an official of the Heilongjiang people's congress, said the revised regulation is being carried out based on the situation in the province, and it will optimize the demographic structure and facilitate balanced population growth in the province.
In recent years, Heilongjiang has faced the pressure of a shrinking population. The seventh national census conducted last year showed that the number of residents in the province dropped by more than 6 million, or almost 17 percent, compared with the sixth national census in 2010.
Populations in all of its 13 cities have fallen from 10 years ago, and Harbin, with its population 630,000 fewer than that of 2010, became the only provincial capital to have seen a decreasing population over the past decade.
Situations in the other two provinces in Northeast China－Jilin and Liaoning－are not much better. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the birthrate in Heilongjiang was 5.73 per 1,000 in 2019, the lowest among all the provinces and regions in China that year. Jilin, at 6.05 per 1,000, was the second lowest, and Liaoning, with 6.45 per 1,000, was the third lowest.
Yi Baozhong, a professor at Northeast Asia Studies College of Jilin University in Jilin province, said such low birthrates stem from the outflow of young populations in these provinces.
In recent years, a growing number of young people in Northeast China have relocated to other parts of China, as a result of a slowing local economy and fewer job opportunities.
As the number of young people decreased, local birthrates also fell, he said.
In response to the changing population in recent years, other regions in China besides Heilongjiang have introduced their own similar policies.
Panzhihua city in southwest Sichuan province, for example, released a series of measures in July, vowing to offer childcare subsidies to local families with a second or third child. Each second and third child of a local family will get 500 yuan ($78) every month as a subsidy until the child reaches 3.This made Panzhihua the first city in the country to provide such a subsidy.