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Chinese county offers $137 reward for young brides


LAHORE MIRROR — Addressing a declining birth rate and an aging population, Changshan county in eastern China has introduced an innovative incentive scheme.

The county has initiated a financial reward program, offering couples 1,000 yuan ($137) if the bride is 25 years old or younger at the time of their marriage.

The county’s official WeChat account recently announced this endeavor, aiming to promote what authorities term as “age-appropriate marriage and childbearing” among first-time couples. To further encourage families, Changshan county is also providing subsidies for childcare, fertility support, and education for couples embarking on the journey of parenthood.

China is confronting its first population decrease in sixty years, coupled with a swiftly aging demographic. In response, authorities are exploring diverse strategies to boost birth rates. These strategies encompass monetary incentives and enhancements to childcare facilities.

While the legal age for marriage in China stands at 22 for males and 20 for females, the number of weddings has been in steady decline. This trend has contributed to reduced birth rates, partly due to governmental policies making it tougher for single women to have children.

Released government data from June 2022 revealed record-low marriage rates, with merely 6.8 million unions, marking the lowest figure since 1986. Additionally, 800,000 fewer marriages occurred in 2022 compared to the previous year. Reports from state media suggest that China’s fertility rate, already among the world’s lowest, dropped alarmingly to 1.09 in 2022.

Numerous factors contribute to these trends. High childcare expenses and the career interruptions many women face discourage them from having more children or starting families. Persistent gender biases and entrenched traditional roles that disproportionately burden women with childcare responsibilities remain pervasive.

Furthermore, concerns over China’s economic future and low consumer confidence dissuade many young Chinese from considering marriage and parenthood as feasible choices.

As China grapples with these demographic challenges, initiatives like Changshan county’s cash reward for younger brides represent a single facet of the multifaceted approaches being explored to combat declining birth rates and an aging populace.