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Improve the supporting measures of the three-child policy, reduce the burden, empower and boost the fertility level

  The related supporting measures of active reproductive support generally include three aspects: time support, economic support and service support, which need to be systematically and holistically designed and promoted.

The key to achieving a moderate fertility level in my country is to increase the number of children born to one child.

The implementation of supporting support measures should also run through the concept of gender equality.

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  In response to the challenge of low fertility, my country has been promoting the liberalization reform of the fertility policy since 2013.

In 2021, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the "Decision on Optimizing the Birth Policy to Promote the Long-term Balanced Development of the Population", clearly implementing the three-child birth policy and supporting measures.

This year's "Government Work Report" proposes to improve the supporting measures for the three-child birth policy, include the care expenses of infants and young children under the age of 3 as a special additional deduction for individual income tax, develop inclusive childcare services, and reduce the burden of family care.

The implementation of the supporting measures for the three-child policy is a key task during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period.

It is imperative to optimize the fertility policy

  my country's population transition has been accelerated under the joint promotion of social and economic development and the family planning policy. It has been 30 years since we entered a low-fertility society.

Data from several surveys, including the national census, show that the current fertility level and willingness to bear children in my country are "double low". First, the fertility level is lower than the willingness to bear children, indicating that there are still unmet needs for childbearing; second, the willingness to bear children is low. At the replacement level, it shows that the reproductive confidence of the population of childbearing age is obviously insufficient.

Boosting fertility levels needs to go hand in hand with boosting fertility confidence.

  At present, most countries and regions in the world are facing the challenge of low fertility. In order to improve the fertility level, various countries and regions have adopted various measures to promote fertility. In recent years, the fertility level of some low-fertility countries and regions has rebounded. The magnitude, causes, and sustainability of these are under scrutiny.

Learning from the successful experience of other countries and regions will help our country get out of the predicament of persistently low fertility more quickly, which makes it imperative to optimize the fertility policy.

Optimizing the fertility policy focuses on strengthening supporting measures

  Optimizing the fertility policy is not only to relax the policy regulations on the number of family births, but more importantly, to meet the fertility needs of people of childbearing age by enhancing the inclusiveness of the policy, reduce and eliminate the obstacles to family fertility, and promote the realization of a moderate fertility level.

  The fertility policy is an important means used by the government to regulate population growth, and it is constantly adjusted and optimized as the population situation changes.

The direction of fertility regulation changes with the national goals. In the 1960s and 1970s, when the productivity level was relatively low and the population grew too fast, my country adopted a quantity-constrained policy approach, and strictly controlled it by implementing a universal one-child birth policy. Population growth; in the 1990s when structural problems were prominent and low fertility levels faced the risk of rebounding, my country implemented a structural optimization strategy aimed at solving population problems in a coordinated way; as the negative growth potential contained in the inherent growth rate of the population continued to accumulate , economic development has entered a new normal, and the population situation has undergone major turning points. The central government has decided to implement an inclusive fertility policy with the goal of achieving a moderate fertility level.

  my country's current fertility policy optimization presents two characteristics that are completely different from previous historical periods. First, the policy direction of fertility rate adjustment has changed from strict control and downward pressure to relaxed upward adjustment. Second, the supporting measures for policy implementation have changed from auxiliary to parallel.

In the past, the supporting measures for the maternity policy mainly followed the principle of "paying equal attention to rewards and punishments" such as incentives and assistance and the collection of social maintenance fees. In 2021, the central government decided to "cancel social maintenance fees, and clean up and abolish relevant penalties", and active maternity support has become the current supporting measure. It has become a key factor in determining the effect of the implementation of the fertility policy.

The implementation of supporting measures should pay attention to youth groups to promote gender equality

  The related supporting measures of active reproductive support generally include three aspects: time support, economic support and service support, which need to be systematically and holistically designed and promoted.

  The supporting measures of my country's three-child birth policy also cover the above three aspects.

The time support measures mainly include paid maternity leave, husband paternity leave, and parental parental leave, which have been reflected in the revised national Population and Family Planning Law and local Population and Family Planning Regulations in 2021.

Economic support and service support are highlighted in the State Council's "Government Work Report" in 2022.

Among them, "involving the care expenses of infants and young children under the age of 3 into the special additional deduction of personal income tax" means that the family fertility will be economically adjusted and guaranteed through the tax system at the national level. The level of economic support is higher and more standardized, which means a breakthrough in fertility He entered the field of public affairs and entered the field of family affairs.

Other economic support measures such as the "double reduction" of education and the issuance of maternity bonuses are also being actively promoted.

The development of inclusive childcare services is an indispensable service support measure, providing convenient, accessible, and affordable infant and child care services for families in need, and solving the problem of "who will take care of the baby" after the mother's maternity leave and before the child enters the nursery. problem.

These measures form a synergy, which will help reduce the burden of family rearing and jointly promote the implementation of the three-child birth policy.

  The implementation of supporting support measures should pay special attention to the willingness and behavior of young people to marry and have children.

The evaluation results of the implementation effect of the comprehensive two-child policy in 2016 show that the policy easing has significantly increased the number of second-child births and the total fertility rate of the second child. In general, the number of births has continued to decline and the total fertility rate has continued to decline in recent years.

Therefore, the key to achieving a moderate fertility level in my country is to increase the number of children born to one child.

Reshaping the social culture of marriage and childbirth, strengthening the education and guidance of young people's views on marriage and family, and creating a social and cultural atmosphere friendly to age-appropriate marriage and childbearing should become an important part of the supporting measures.

  The implementation of supporting support measures should also run through the concept of gender equality.

With the improvement of women's education level and labor participation, the work-family conflict caused by childcare has become more and more obvious. The main reason is the inconsistency of gender roles in the social and family fields.

In the workplace, women often assume the same job responsibilities as men; in the family, women are regarded as the main body of childbearing, which in turn affects the evaluation of women by employers in recruitment, promotion and other links.

The formulation and implementation of reform measures and supporting measures such as the relaxation of maternity policies and the extension of maternity leave should have a gender equality perspective, reverse the awareness that "childcare is the sole responsibility of women", clarify the childcare sharing mechanism, and reasonably share the burden of childbearing among stakeholders. Various costs, balance the relationship between fertility support measures and women's employment, so as to eliminate the worries of women's fertility.

Follow the law of population development, reduce burden and empower, implement precise policies according to family needs

  Decreasing the fertility rate is an inevitable trend of human development, but a persistently low fertility rate is not conducive to the development of a country and a nation. Therefore, moderately increasing the fertility level has become a joint effort of all countries and regions in the world facing the challenge of low fertility after the completion of the population transition.

  Population development is long-term and complex, and the performance of elements of the population system has the nature of internal and external differences.

"The total fertility rate is below the replacement level" is just a rough statement. The essence is that the internal natural growth rate is less than zero, or the net reproductive rate is less than 1, reflecting that the number of daughters born to the mother's generation and survived to reproductive age is not enough. The number of replacement mother generations.

This level of intergenerational replacement is an internal manifestation of the population development trend, which is not necessarily synchronized with the natural population growth and population size changes caused by births and deaths. The larger the value, the more the external population continues to rise even though the internal population has been growing negatively.

For example, my country's fertility rate was below the replacement level in 1992, indicating that the internal natural growth has started a negative growth process, but the total population is still showing an inertial positive growth, continuing to increase from 1.17 billion in 1992 to 1.413 billion in 2021. , the natural population growth rate fell from 11.60‰ in 1992 to 0.34‰ in 2021, falling into the zero growth range.

The characteristics of the different internal and external elements of the population system are highly concealed and confusing, which greatly interferes with the public's understanding of the population situation, and puts forward higher requirements for the top-level design of population policy to be far-sighted and take precautions.

  Following the law of population development, the implementation of the three-child birth policy should be gradual and gradual, and should not expect immediate results; supporting measures should be based on reducing the burden on families and meeting family needs as the starting point, and pay attention to the heterogeneity of population needs. General needs, but also to meet the special needs of people in different life cycles, to enhance family development capabilities; to consider the feasibility and sustainability of supporting measures, especially policy measures involving fund distribution, holiday arrangements, etc., and take into account stakeholders The multi-party demands of precise policy implementation ensure that policy measures are implemented and sustainable in a long period of time.

  (The author is the deputy secretary general of the Chinese Population Society, deputy director and professor of the Population and Development Research Center of Renmin University of China. This article is a major project of the National Social Science Foundation of China "Theoretical Construction and Multidimensional Measurement of China's Population Balanced Development from the Perspective of High-quality Development" stage results)

  Song Jian


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