Second Child is a ‘Luxury’, Chinese Moms Say

Second Child is a  ‘Luxury’, Chinese Moms Say
Photo Credit: Corbis/達志影像

What you need to know

One is enough: Despite relaxed restrictions on the number of children Chinese parents are allowed to have, a second child is a luxury beyond most people's reach.

A report surveying more than 14,000 Chinese working women by Zhaopin.com, a job recruitment website, shows that nearly 60% of Chinese mothers do not want a second child, and more than 20% of married working women do not want to have a child.

"Raising a child costs too much" is the top reason on the survey, while "lacking time and energy for a baby" ranks second given by respondents. Some working mothers are also concerned that a child will have an adverse impact on their career – a more popular response among highly educated women.

A Chinese mother, who lives in Shanghai, says that while she longs for a second child, the pressure of raising him/her is too much. She is also concerned about China’s economy and job security. She says only those with a stable income can afford a second child. A second child is “like a luxury,” she says, adding that it is a way for people to “show off” their wealth.

Money Weekly, a Chinese investment magazine, calculates it costs a family between RMB 500,000 and RMB 1.3 million (US$75,000 to US$194,000) to raise a child until he/she graduates from college. That figure increases to RMB 2 million if the child studies abroad. In big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the costs may be greater.

Other than financial concerns, 13% of couples in China reportedly face fertility issues. According to the Reproductive and Genetic Hospital of Citic-Xiangya, the quality of Chinese sperm has dropped in recent years, with some pointing to pollution as a key cause.

Law changes slow to kick-in

China’s strict family policies were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s. The controversial one-child policy has been gradually relaxed in recent years and officially dropped last year. From 2013, couples were allowed to have a second child if one of the would-be parents was themselves an only child.

Statistics published by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHFPC) show that in 2015 approximately 2 million applications for a second child were filed.

The figure is far below what authorities have projected, Chinese state-owned publication Global Times quotes demographics expert Huang Wenzheng as saying。

When the second-child policy took effect in 2014, the NHFPC estimated the policy would result in a 2 million population boost within a year.

A Chinese government announcement notes that in the past year, just shy of 90% of China’s migrant families receive free family planning services. The mortality rates for infants and pregnant women have also dropped.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole