Updated February 21st, 2024 at 12:58 IST

Raising a child in China is more expensive than you think it is

The cost of raising a child until the age of 18 in China is approximately 6.3 times the country's per capita GDP.

Reported by: Business Desk
China childcare costs | Image:Unsplash
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China childcare costs: China has been named as one of the most expensive places for child-rearing relative to its GDP per capita, according to a recent report by the Beijing-based YuWa Population Research Institute. The study underscores the substantial time and opportunity costs faced by women contemplating parenthood in China's socio-economic landscape.

According to the report authored by Liang Jianzhang, founder of online travel platform Ctrip and co-founder of the YuWa Institute, the cost of raising a child until the age of 18 in China is approximately 6.3 times the country's per capita GDP. This figure starkly contrasts with ratios observed in other developed nations, such as Australia (2.08 times), France (2.24 times), the United States (4.11 times), and Japan (4.26 times).

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The financial strain associated with childcare significantly impacts women's participation in the workforce, resulting in reduced paid work hours and wage rates. Conversely, men's livelihoods tend to remain relatively unaffected by parenthood.

The report highlights the daunting challenges faced by women in balancing familial responsibilities with career aspirations, attributing the declining fertility rates in China to factors such as exorbitant childcare costs, societal pressures, and prevalent gender discrimination.

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Statistics reveal that women, particularly those with children aged 0-4, experience a drastic reduction in working hours by 2,106 hours, accompanied by an estimated wage loss of 63,000 yuan ($8,700) during this period. Additionally, the birth of a child typically leads to a 12-17 per cent decline in women's wages and a significant reduction in leisure time.

In response to the escalating childcare costs and declining fertility rates, the YuWa Institute advocates for urgent policy interventions at the national level. Proposed measures include cash and tax subsidies, enhanced childcare services, equitable parental leave policies, access to foreign nannies, flexible work arrangements, and equal reproductive rights for single women.

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By implementing these reforms, the report suggests that China could potentially increase new birth rates to approximately 3 million annually. Failing to address the current fertility crisis, characterized by an alarmingly low total fertility rate of about 1.0, could precipitate rapid population decline and aging, posing profound challenges to China's innovation and overall national strength.

(With Reuters inputs.)

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Published February 21st, 2024 at 12:58 IST