How China is seeking to boost its falling birth rate

STORY: China’s population has fallen for the first time in 60 years,

by roughly 850,000 people to be more exact.

The drop marks the start of an expected long-term decline in citizen numbers with major economic consequences.

So, how has China got here?

And what’s the government's plan to boost population numbers?

Let’s go back to 1980, when China implemented its one-child policy.

It was introduced in response to government concerns about the social and economic consequences of continued rapid population growth.

Families were not allowed to have more than one child.

Violators were fined.

And mothers were often forced to have abortions, many of which were gender selective abortions due to a historical and cultural preference for families to have boys.

China says the policy averted some 400 million births.

Beijing officially ended the policy at the start of 2016.

In 2021, it said it would allow couples to have three children.

But despite the relaxation of rules, many couples still have their reasons for not wanting more children,

citing high education costs and limited childcare options as the main reasons.

"I don't think it solves anything fundamentally by allowing people to have a second child or even a third child. I think firstly, the cost to raise a child now is too high, from when they are little, to when they go to school, then when they look for a job in the future, get married and have their own children, the cost is too high. We currently don't have any plans to have a second child."

To encourage more births, local governments have rolled out incentives since 2021.

These include tax deductions, longer maternity leave and housing subsidies.

Beijing also banned private-tutoring companies from making a profit from teaching core subjects and offering classes on weekends or holidays.

The industry had charged exorbitant prices.

There are specific financial incentives in various areas of the country too.

In Shenzhen, couples having a third child or more receive an annual allowance of over 6,000 yuan ($890) until the child turns three.

Other incentives include boosts to housing, childcare and reproductive health services.

But the measures so far have done little to arrest the long-term trend.

And U.N. experts see China's population shrinking by 109 million by 2050.

"I will certainly have a child in the future. It is only a matter of time. When I have the financial means, (I would want to have child), so I can provide a good life for my child. I won't just have a child just for the sake of having one."