HONG KONG (Reuters) - A county in eastern China is offering couples a "reward" of 1,000 yuan ($137) if the bride is aged 25 or younger, the latest measure to incentivise young people to get married amid rising concern over a declining birth rate.
The notice, which was published on Changshan county's official Wechat account last week, said the reward was to promote "age-appropriate marriage and childbearing" for first marriages. It also included a series of childcare, fertility and education subsidies for couples who have children.
Concerned about China's first population drop in six decades and its rapid ageing population, authorities are urgently trying an array of measures to lift the birth rate including financial incentives and improved childcare facilities.
China's legal age limit for marriage is 22 for males and 20 for females, but the number of couples getting married has been falling. That has driven down birth rates due to official policies which make it harder for single women to have children.
Marriage rates hit a record low in 2022 at 6.8 million, the lowest since 1986, according to government data released in June. There were 800,000 fewer marriages last year than in 2021.
China's fertility rate, already one of the world's lowest, is estimated to have dropped to a record low of 1.09 in 2022, state media reported.
High childcare costs and having to stop their careers have put many women off having more children or any at all. Gender discrimination and traditional stereotypes of women caring for their children are still widespread throughout the country.
Low consumer confidence and growing concerns over the health of China’s economy are also key factors cited by young Chinese for not wanting to get married and have children.
($1 = 7.2900 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Lincoln Feast)