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Childcare costs in China stand among highest worldwide

China is considered one of the world’s most expensive countries to raise children in relation to its GDP per capita, a Chinese think tank reported on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The cost of raising a child under 18 relative to GDP per capita is about 6.3 times in China, compared with 2.08 times in Australia, 2.24 times in France, 4.11 times in the United States and 4.26 times in Japan, the Beijing-based YuWa Population Research Institute stated.

Liang Jianzhang, founder of the YuWa institute, stated that the average childbearing readiness of the Chinese people was “almost the lowest in the world” due to the high cost of childbearing and the challenge of balancing family life and work for women.

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.

An increasing number of women are choosing not to give birth because of the high cost of childcare, as well as a reluctance to marry or give up their careers for a family. Women who reduce their working hours while caring for children aged 0 to 4 face an estimated wage loss of RMB 63,000 (US$8,700) over this period. The calculation was based on an hourly wage rate of 30 RMB per hour.

Childbirth would also lead to a 12-17 per cent drop in women’s wages, the report concluded. Free time will fall by 12.6 hours for mothers with one child aged 0-6 and by 14 hours for those with two children.

The report was published against the backdrop of China’s population shrinking in 2023 for the second consecutive year, with new births falling to about half of the rate in 2016.

If the current ultra-low fertility rate cannot be improved, China’s population will rapidly decline and age, which will have a serious negative impact on innovation and overall national strength.

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