A landlocked province in northwest China, in a bid to encourage couples to have children, seeks to sharply increase the length of paid maternity leave to nearly a full year, putting it on par with some developed economies in Europe.
Shaanxi is seeking public opinion on granting an additional six months maternity leave in addition to the current 168 days. This would put the province in the same league as European nations like Germany or Norway.
Shaanxi is also considering doubling the length of paternity leave to 30 days for couples wishing to have a third child.
China announced in May that married couples could have up to three children, after data showed a dramatic drop in births in the world’s most populous country.
The decision to let families have up to three children initially raised doubts as to whether it would make a big difference. Appeals were also made for details of the supports that would be included.
Since then, 14 provinces, including Shaanxi, have either changed local family planning rules or are seeking public opinion to change laws to grant additional maternity or paternity leave.
Some have even created a new form of leave – “parental education leave” – ââfor couples with children 3 years of age or younger, state media reported on Wednesday.
The southern island province of Hainan offers one hour of parental leave per day for parents with children under the age of 3.
Heilongjiang province even allows couples in border towns to have four children, due to the below-average birth rate in the remote northeastern region of China.
In 2016, Beijing abandoned its decades-old one-child policy and replaced it with a two-child limit to counter the rapidly aging population.
But that has failed to stimulate births, in part because of the relatively high cost of raising children in urban China – a challenge that persists to this day.
China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020, according to recent data, on par with aging societies like Japan and Italy.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)