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Sunday April 14, 2024

China’s childcare costs among highest in world: think tank

Raising children also leads to a reduction in women’s paid work hours and wage rates, while men’s livelihoods remain largely unchanged

By REUTERS
February 22, 2024
Chinese children can be seen while playing. — AFP
Chinese children can be seen while playing. — AFP

HONG KONG: China is one of the world’s most expensive places to raise a child, relative to its GDP per capita, a prominent Chinese think tank said on Wednesday as it detailed the time and opportunity costs for women who opt to have children in the country.

The cost of raising a child until they are 18 relative to per capita GDP is around 6.3 times in China versus 2.08 times in Australia, 2.24 times in France, 4.11 times in the US and 4.26 times in Japan, said a report by the Beijing-based YuWa Population Research Institute.

Raising children also leads to a reduction in women’s paid work hours and wage rates, while men’s livelihoods remain largely unchanged.

“Because the current social environment in China is not friendly to women’s fertility, the time cost and opportunity cost for women to have children are too high,” said the report, co-authored by Liang Jianzhang, founder of online travelling site Ctrip 9961.HK and also a founder of the YuWa institute.

“Due to reasons such as the high cost of childbearing and the difficulty for women to balance family and work, the Chinese people’s average fertility willingness is almost the lowest in the world.”

The report comes after China’s population fell for a second consecutive year in 2023 with the number of new births dropping to around half of that in 2016.