China extends maternity leave to boost birth rate

Eva Deschamps / November 27, 2021

Several regions in China have decided to grant at least 30 extra days of maternity leave to encourage births in a country facing an aging population and a declining workforce.
The authorities have allowed all Chinese to have three children since this year. They hope to boost the birth rate, which collapsed last year to its lowest level in more than 40 years. The Beijing municipal government announced Friday that women will now be able to take 158 days of maternity leave - 30 more than before. Authorities in Shanghai, the country's most populous city (25 million people), announced similar measures.
In the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, mothers of a second or third child will get 188 days of maternity leave, or more than 26 weeks, the official news agency China News reported. National law allows a minimum of 98 days maternity leave. After more than three decades of a one-child policy, China relaxed its rules in 2016, allowing all Chinese to have a second child and then a third this year. But the authorities' incentives seem to have little effect on households, faced with the rising cost of living, education and housing. The birth rate fell sharply last year, to 8.52 births per 1,000 inhabitants. This is the lowest figure since the Chinese Statistical Yearbook was first published in 1978.
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