RUSSIA-CHINA Moscow and Beijing fight falling birth rates

Russians and Chinese have launched plans to help families reverse the demographic trend. The war in Ukraine has aggravated the problem of population decline and aging in Russia. Experts consider Chinese subsidies insufficient. The Kremlin does not have enough funds.

Moscow () – While statistics indicate that India is close to becoming the most populous country in the world, China and Russia are trying to promote birth rates in their territory. Immediately after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the increase in population thanks to the incorporation of the three million inhabitants of the peninsula had led to the decrease in subsidies for “maternal capital”, but in reality the problem was never resolved. really reduced. And the year of war, including the fictitious annexation of four other Ukrainian regions, further aggravated Russia’s problem of population decline and aging.

In China, plans have also been launched to support the birth rate. Unlike Russia, where the subsidies are mainly intended to promote the birth of the first child, in China the amounts for the second and subsequent children were also increased.

In Shenzhen (Guangdong), one of the largest Chinese metropolises with more than 17 million inhabitants, the local authorities want to extend support measures for families with children. The local health commission proposes that family allowances be increased to 19,000 yuan (just under $3,000) for three years. Pregnancy and childbirth allowances of 3,000 yuan will also be given to families where the first child is born, as long as they register their residence in the city. These families will be able to get 1,500 yuan child care support for three years.

After learning that China lost 850,000 people in 2022, similar measures are being studied in several Chinese cities. Especially in the last year, the number of women of reproductive age, between 15 and 49 years old, has decreased by more than 4 million, and, in general terms, women are fewer than men, 690 million against 722. This is the result over 40 years of the “one child” policy that was introduced in 1979 and applied throughout the country, with some exceptions for certain regions and ethnic groups, significantly reducing the working-age population.

The Beijing government only allowed the second child in 2015, leading to record growth the following year, when almost 18 million children were born. However, the trend was not confirmed in the following years, to the point that the third child was even allowed in 2021. On the other hand, pro-birth policies do not arouse great enthusiasm, also taking into account similar practices in western countries. Experts such as Professor Sun Tsjuanchen of the Shandong School of Social Development say subsidies and longer furloughs are not enough.

Independent Russian demographer Aleksej Rakša, who worked at the Rosstat statistical institute, believes that Chinese subsidies are not enough: “Shenzhen can be compared to Moscow, and in comparison, Chinese families receive much less than Russian families.” Not to mention that in most other cities in China the measures have yet to be put into practice. In Russia, “maternal capital” has undergone several changes in recent times, and in 2023 the figures will reach 589,000 rubles (just under $1,000) for the first child and 779,000 for the second, but only for families that have not received help for the firstborn.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov stated that Russia is also looking for other, more effective ways to stimulate the birth rate, modulated according to the different conditions and location of families. It would be necessary to allocate more and more articulated funds, measures that are difficult to plan in times of war and mobilization, which certainly do not contribute to population growth and the well-being of families.

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