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This Chinese company will pay its workers $140 million to have kids

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BM.GE
30.06.23 18:28
262
China’s Trip.com, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies, is introducing new childcare subsidies worth 1 billion yuan ($138 million) to encourage its 32,000 employees to have kids.

Workers who have been with the company for at least three years will receive an annual bonus of 10,000 yuan ($1,376) for each new-born child every year from the child’s first birthday until they reach the age of five. The policy will take effect on Saturday.

“Through the introduction of this new childcare benefit, we aim to provide financial support that will encourage our employees to start or grow their families without compromising on their professional goals and achievements,” Trip.com executive chairman James Liang said in a statement Friday.

Trip.com’s announcement follows similar initiatives by smaller Chinese companies and comes as the country faces a demographic crisis.

China’s population shrank in 2022 for the first time in more than 60 years, with just 6.77 births per 1,000 people — the lowest birth rate since the founding of Communist China in 1949. The country is now the world’s second most populous nation, having fallen behind India, according to the United Nations.

Beijing scrapped its decades-long “one child” policy in 2015, initially allowing married couples to have two children. But after a brief uptick in 2016, the national birth rate has continued to fall.

The issue is a key concern for policymakers, as it could have profound implications for the country. It adds to the problem of an aging population, could affect economic growth, and reduce tax revenue and contributions to a pension system that is already strained.

At Trip.com, all full-time employees who have worked for the company for three years will qualify for the bonus, regardless of their gender, position or job location, the company said in a second statement in Chinese.

“I have always suggested that the government give money to families with children … to reduce the family’s child-rearing costs and help more young people fulfill their desire to have multiple children,” Liang said in that statement.

“Companies can also play a role within their own capabilities to build a favorable reproductive environment,” he added.

There are other examples. Beijing Dabeinong Technology, an agricultural company, said last year that it would give a 90,000 yuan ($12,391) cash bonus to employees if they had a third child, according to state media, including the China Securities Journal. Giving birth to a first or second child would lead to payments of 30,000 yuan ($4,130) and 60,000 yuan ($8,260) respectively, the reports said.

Last month, QiaoYin City Management, an urban sanitation services firm, announced that it would offer a 100,000 yuan ($13,759) bonus to employees for giving birth to a third child. The move was aimed at reducing the financial burden on the families of young employees and responding to the government’s call to encourage births, the company said.

The falling birth rate isn’t the only worry for Beijing. Fewer people in China are also getting married, which could compound the problem.

Some 6.83 million couples married in 2022, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs earlier this month. That’s down around 10.5% from the 7.63 million marriages registered in 2021 and is the lowest number on record since the ministry began publishing the data in 1986.

Policymakers further relaxed limits on births in 2021, allowing three children, and ramped up efforts to encourage larger families, including through a plan released last year to strengthen maternity leave, and offer tax deductions and other perks to families.

But those efforts have yet to yield results amid changing gender norms, the high cost of living and education, and economic uncertainty, CNN reports.