With the Chinese population falling for the first time in 60 years last year, the country’s top political advisory body is reportedly arguing for free higher education and equal rights for single women as a means to boost the birth rate.
China’s birth rate dropped to 6.77 per 1,000 last year, a record low.
Xie Wenmin, a member of China’s top political advisory council, recently made comments to the state-backed Global Times suggesting that China should lift restrictions on marital status used to register births, so allowing unmarried women to access fertility services on par with married women.
Although only married women are permitted to give birth under current government guidelines, several areas, such as Sichuan in China’s southwest, began permitting singles to have children in February.
As a result of the country’s declining population, the Chinese government has implemented a number of incentives and initiatives, such as increased maternity leave, tax breaks for having children, and free or low-cost housing.
The proposals come ahead of the next Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which begins on March 4.
Meanwhile, CPPCC delegate Zhao Dongling suggested on Thursday that families with a third child born after 2024 should get free college education.
The one-child policy that was in place from 1980 to 2015 is largely blamed for China’s declining population. Even after the regulation was removed, high childcare and education expenditures were identified as a major reason for having fewer children.