Explainer: The cost of having a child in China

Married Chinese couples can now have up to three children.

The announcement is a major shift from China’s existing limit of two.

It’s a response to recent data; there’s been a dramatic decline in births in the country and China's fertility rate has fallen to just 1.3 children per woman.

That despite Beijing’s scrapping of its one-child policy in 2016.

Why the decline?

The cost of raising a child in urban China has deterred many would-be parents.

[Mother Jacqueline Wang, saying:] "Because we're living in a big city, such as Beijing, the work pace is fast. And it isn't easy to make money. The cost of time to raise a child is also high.”

So how much does it cost to have a child in China’s big cities?

1. $15,700

That’s how much private clinics in China are charging women for to give birth.

Prenatal tests and deliveries in public hospitals are usually covered by state insurance - but resources are tight and more Chinese women are turning to private options.

2. Up to $55,000

This is how much a postpartum centre in Beijing can cost – per month.

As Chinese incomes rise women are flocking to facilities like this for professional care and services.

Well-off families also typically hire an in-house nursemaid, or yuesao to look after the mother and baby in the first month, at roughly $2,300.

3. $14,000 per square meter

Housing costs in Beijing's Haidian - a district with good schools - hover around $14,000 per square meter on par with median prices in Manhattan.

Those not eligible for public schools because they lack a hukou, or residency permit, must attend private schools, which cost between roughly $6,000 - $39,000 per year.

Anxious parents, most of them investing in their only child, sign kids up for private tutoring and to extracurriculars such as piano, tennis or chess classes.

And competition is fierce.

In order to ease pressure on children and boost birth rates by lowering family education costs, China has launched a clampdown on the country's booming private tutoring industry.

4. $131,000

An average family living in Shanghai's upscale Jingan District spends roughly $131,000 per child from birth through junior high school, which typically ends at age 15.

That's according to a 2019 Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences report.

The report said low-income families in the same areas spend over 70% of earnings on the child.

High costs and the pressures of having grown up as only children, as well as the expectation that they will support their parents, have made many young people reluctant to have kids of their own.

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