Promoting the construction of a fertility-friendly society

  The population problem is the "bigger of the country", and the adjustment and perfection of the birth policy is related to thousands of households.

To live or not to live?

How many are born?

Not an easy question to answer.

Influencing the family's choice is not only the actual consideration of family members, but also the influence of various factors of the economic and social environment.

  In order to implement the "Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Optimizing the Birth Policy to Promote the Long-term Balanced Development of the Population", many provinces have completed the revision of population and family planning regulations and formulated implementation plans.

Among them, the extension of maternity leave and the increase of parental leave have received widespread attention from the society.

Considering the causes of low fertility rates and the complexity and systemic nature of policy implementation, building a fertility-friendly society requires step-by-step implementation and progress, and a “package” of policies should be implemented in a coordinated way to form a synergy.

  Low fertility will become a real problem

  Recently, the State Council decided to establish a special additional deduction for personal income tax for the care of infants and young children under the age of 3.

As soon as the news came out, in just one day, more than 1 million taxpayers completed the reporting of the special additional deduction.

"This is an active exploration, which is conducive to reducing the family's burden of raising children, and reflects the country's encouragement and care for the people's fertility and parenting." said Lu Jiehua, a professor at the Department of Sociology at Peking University.

  In recent years, from the central to local governments, a series of support policies have been successively introduced to promote the construction of a fertility-friendly society.

What is a "fertility-friendly society"?

According to Yang Ge, an associate researcher at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the "family-friendly policy" proposed by UNICEF can provide a reference.

"The 'Family Friendly Policy' supports the needs of families to care for infants and young children, while also allowing parents to carry out their work responsibilities, essentially allowing parents to strike a balance between childcare and employment."

  "Constructing a fertility-friendly society focuses on building a fertility-friendly environment." Lu Jiehua believes that it not only includes the friendliness of fertility behavior, but also includes all-round friendly support for marriage and childbirth, child growth and family building.

  "Before the birth policy was changed, my country had already carried out system construction in the aspects of birth, education, taxation, insurance, etc., laying a preliminary foundation for the construction of a birth-friendly society." Yang Ge took birth as an example to introduce, China's maternal and child health and The family planning service guarantee project has been implemented for many years, and has achieved good results in pre-pregnancy eugenic education, pregnancy health care, birth defect screening, and infant and child immunization programs, greatly reducing the rate of newborn defects and infant and child mortality.

  However, there is another fact that cannot be ignored, that is, with the continuous development of the economy and society, especially the impact of industrialization and modernization, low fertility has become a common problem faced by most developed countries, and it will also become a real problem faced by China. .

According to the seventh national census data, the total fertility rate of women of childbearing age in China in 2020 is 1.3, which is at a low level of fertility.

  The fertility rate is low, on the one hand, due to the reduction in the base of the birth population and the delay in the age of marriage and childbearing, and on the other hand, the decrease in people's willingness to bear children.

  "The two-child and three-child policies have been released one after another, and supporting measures have been introduced one after another. We have seen the country's determination and efforts to encourage childbirth," said Ms. Wang, who has lived in Beijing for many years and has a son.

But when she and her husband discussed whether to have a second child, the energy and cost of raising the child made the young couple back off.

"Our parents are getting older, and we still have to repay the mortgage, which is really overpowering." Ms. Wang said frankly.

According to the "Online Questionnaire on the Cost of Raising Children's Education" conducted by the China Economic Times last year, 80% of the respondents believed that the economic cost of having children was too high, and more than 50% of the respondents felt that they lacked the time to raise and take care of their children.

  Worry about career development is another reason why many women are "unwilling to give birth" or "dare to give birth".

Affected by traditional concepts, women may be labeled as "maternity leave and parental leave in the future" by employers before they have given birth to children;

  "Women are worried about their jobs and often go to work as soon as possible after giving birth, but their children are left unattended." Yang Ge said that the childcare rate of infants and young children under the age of 3 in my country is about 5.5%, and most parents are busy with work and have no energy to take care of them. larger.

  "In the face of the new challenges brought about by my country's population change, it is necessary to build a fertility-friendly society." Lu Jiehua said that through a systematic, long-term, and comprehensive establishment of a fertility-friendly system, we will promote the realization of an appropriate fertility level and promote long-term population balance. develop.

  It takes time to unleash reproductive potential

  The revised "Beijing Population and Family Planning Regulations" stipulates that the extended maternity leave enjoyed by mothers is increased from 30 days to 60 days; before the child turns 3 years old, the husband and wife each enjoy 5 working days of parental leave each year.

Hebei, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Qinghai and other places stipulate that mothers who meet the relevant regulations can extend maternity leave for 90 days on the basis of the maternity leave stipulated by the state; both parents of infants and young children under the age of 3 have 10 days or 15 days of parental leave each year.

In Chongqing, one spouse can even take parental leave until the child turns 1, or both spouses can take 5 to 10 days of parental leave each year before the child turns 6.

  In addition to extending maternity leave and adding parental leave, many places have also clearly extended marriage leave, added parental leave for one-child accompaniment, guaranteed the rights and interests of employees during the leave period, and issued housing subsidies.

  "There are many hard and practical measures to encourage fertility policies introduced in various places, but it will take a certain amount of time to truly release the fertility potential." Yang Ge said that the final effect depends on the specific implementation situation.

  The reporter noticed that on People's Daily Online's "Leadership Message Board", posts such as "When will the parental leave be implemented" and "The company refuses to implement parental leave", reflecting that employers in some places failed to implement the policy in a timely and accurate manner.

Some netizens said that after applying for parental leave, they were told by the company to wait for the relevant departments to issue a document, while others rejected it on the grounds that parental leave was not necessary.

  According to the "Special Provisions on Labor Protection for Female Employees", the maternity allowance for female employees during maternity leave, for those who have participated in maternity insurance, shall be paid from the maternity insurance fund according to the average monthly salary of the employees in the previous year; The standard of wages for female employees before maternity leave shall be paid by the employer.

However, in terms of specific operations, it varies from place to place and the nature of the unit.

  "The extension of maternity leave has gradually caused the problem of imbalance of income and expenditure of maternity insurance funds. In many places, it is not clear who will pay the additional maternity allowance." Lu Jiehua said that what needs to be vigilant is that if the policy is only paid by the employer, it is inevitable It will affect the labor cost of the employer and the equal employment of women. In the implementation process, the effect will inevitably be discounted.

  Although infant and young child care services have received more and more attention, there are still problems such as inconsistent content standards and lack of supervision in child care services in various places.

"Since the second child was fully liberalized, some social institutions have opened infant care institutions, but many parents do not fully understand whether these institutions are legal and compliant and whether the staff are qualified." Yang Ge pointed out that the current care of infants and young children is still based on Parents and elders on both sides are the mainstay, and not everyone trusts childcare services.

  "In addition to policies, people's ideas should not be ignored." Yang Ge said that there are many ways to obtain information today. Some self-media create emotional anxiety and attract attention, causing anxiety about marriage and childbirth to spread to young groups. Over time, it is very likely that influence their attitudes towards marriage.

  Xiao An, who is in graduate school, recently talked to her at school. For her, this step was not easy.

"I have seen some negative news about marriage, love and family on the Internet before, and every time my relatives and friends try to urge marriage in different ways, I am very annoyed." Xiao An said that for a long time, he was afraid of falling in love, and even thought of getting married. Panic about having a baby.

  Later, an open class on marriage and love offered by the school slowly changed Xiao An's mind.

"I listened to it because I was curious. I didn't expect it to improve my confidence in marriage and love, and made a brave change."

  Find the "greatest common divisor" for individuals, households, employers and countries

  On May 31, 2021, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held a meeting to listen to the report on major policies and measures to actively respond to population aging during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, and to review the "Decision on Optimizing the Fertility Policy to Promote Long-term Balanced Development of the Population".

The meeting pointed out that the fertility policy should be further optimized, and the policy that a couple can have three children and supporting measures should be implemented.

In August of the same year, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress voted and passed the decision on amending the Population and Family Planning Law.

A series of top-level designs point out the direction for building a fertility-friendly society.

  "The construction of a fertility-friendly society cannot be achieved overnight. Whether it is the introduction of public policies, public services, or the formation of cultural public opinion and social environment, it needs to be gradually advanced to find the 'greatest common divisor' of individuals, families, employers and countries. , to reduce the burden of fertility, parenting, and education, so that the people of the right age who are willing to give birth 'can afford' and 'raise well'." Yang Ge said.

  Regarding the implementation of parental leave and other holidays, Lu Jiehua suggested that relevant departments should strengthen the supervision of employers through inspections to protect the legitimate rights and interests of childbearing couples.

At the same time, government departments should also introduce preferential policies in terms of taxation, social security reduction and exemption, etc. to reduce the pressure on employers and increase their understanding and support of national policies.

  In view of the fact that women's longer maternity leave may bring about a competitive disadvantage in the workplace, some people have proposed that while giving women maternity leave, men should be given paternity leave, or even forced to take parental leave.

On the one hand, it can encourage parents to share child-rearing responsibilities, and on the other hand, it can also reduce employment discrimination caused by childbirth.

  However, some people questioned, if men were forced to take paternity leave and parental leave, would it increase the economic burden on families of newborn babies in the short term?

In view of this, some experts said that extending male paternity leave is not the key, and advocating the family concept of gender equality is the "key to solving the problem".

  Due to differences in economic conditions, parents' occupational status and community environment, the needs of child-rearing families for child-care services vary widely.

Yang Ge said that it is necessary to pay attention to the multi-level construction of the nursery service system, do a good job of scientific planning in the early stage, and avoid extensive development.

In addition, the government should play a leading role in establishing and improving scientific childcare service standards, strengthening the construction of practitioners, and establishing and improving supervision mechanisms, so that the relevant standards, systems, and measures for childcare should be carefully implemented.

  The delay of the first childbearing age has objectively increased the demand for reproductive health services, while assisted reproductive technology has always been linked to high fees, and many families in need are discouraged.

Not long ago, 16 assisted reproductive technology projects such as intrauterine insemination were included in the scope of medical insurance reimbursement in Beijing, which has a certain demonstration significance in the country.

He Dan, director of the China Population and Development Research Center, suggested that full consideration should be given to strengthening reproductive health services and incorporating some assisted reproductive technologies into the scope of basic public services.

  Building a fertility-friendly society requires not only a "package" of policies, but also good concept guidance.

Perception shifts are often more difficult than the implementation of laws, regulations and policy initiatives.

"Today's young people are more independent in thinking and have more diverse concepts, and we should fully respect their autonomy in matters of marriage and childbirth." Lu Jiehua said, at the same time, we must strengthen the education and guidance of marriageable young people's concept of marriage and family, and prevent bad habits of marriage. Manage the bad social atmosphere such as high-priced bride price gifts, etc., and continuously improve the confidence of young people in marriage and childbirth.

  Shi Zhipeng

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