China has loosened the family planning policy and decided to allow all couples to have two children. The aim, among others, is to increase the country’s fertility rate in order to ease the pressure of the fast aging population. But the question is: Will the goal be fulfilled?
To start with, there is no specific regulation on maternity leave for women who want to have a second child. And since the social welfare insurance mechanism does not have any provision for maternity insurance, employers have to bear the entire cost of granting maternity leave, including salaries and insurance. This could prompt employers to overlook women when it comes to promotions and higher postings, which, in turn, could force women to not have a second child and sacrifice their careers.
Besides, since employers have to bear the cost of providing maternity leave not once but twice to women to promote the new family planning policy, they may refrain from recruiting and promoting women of child-bearing age even if they are qualified and experienced. This is certainly not what the new family planning policy is aimed at.
Also, women with higher education get married later than other women. As a result, they give birth past the national average age. Moreover, women in general are tying the knot later than expected because they spend the first few years after graduating from college to build their careers. This could prompt employers not to recruit women for fear that they might soon get married and seek maternity leave.
There is another, bigger problem. Some women do not want to have a second child, as many surveys and news reports have suggested, and quite a few do not want to have even one child. Such women are preoccupied with building their careers and, thanks to Western influence, weigh their lives differently, in economic terms. This could serve them well in the workplace and keep their familial responsibilities to the minimum but will definitely not help increase the country’s fertility rate.
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