A friend shared a news this morning, that starting end of January 2022, Shanghai will allow single mother to apply childbirth and childcare allowances 生育金 n 育儿补贴, to encourage single motherhood, in order to increasing birth rate. China’s birth rate is at all time low, in four decades 8.52 per 1,000 people in 2020, while US was 11.0 per 1,000 population.
I googled Shanghai encourage women to have children without marrying, ironically, one of three results was The Guardian’s 2014 article, titled For Chinese women, unmarried motherhood remains the final taboo (below).
All my classmates in Beijing have one child because it was one child policy era 一孩政策 (1980-2015). Then, it changed, increased frequently:
- 1949, Chairman Mao encourage child birth, per tradition
- 2016-2021, two-child policy
- 2021.5.31, three -child policy
- 2022, single motherhood
This isn’t tax rate increase or decrease, but human lives. The swift change, is probably not the best for the people, and country.
2022, 单身母亲 (?) …
时时小庆幸: 俺上学时 数字也就 百几十什么的. 千都少见. 俺一个月的生活费12.5元. 咱微积分不行 不过那时小打小闹还混得风生水起 从来没有不及格过… 实在不行还可数手指 😂不够加脚趾 … 幸好邓爷改革时 俺也离开学校了. 不然动不动 成千上亿 怎么数呀？习大大 现在更是百亿 亿亿的 … 崩溃
生得逢时 😅 小庆幸
For Chinese women, unmarried motherhood remains the final taboo
Sex outside marriage was illegal in China until 1997 but the bigotry that led mothers to abandon children is finally shifting
Tania Branigan in Beijing, Mon 20 Jan 2014
After her boyfriend left when she was six months pregnant, taking all their savings, Xiao Pan dared not tell her family. Unable to have a late-term abortion, she gave birth without them knowing. “Some friends suggested I give my son away. I decided not to, but to live well and bring him up by myself. I wanted to be strong,” said Xiao, now 32 and the mother of a “beautiful, healthy” four-year-old.
“I just thought: I am an adult, and I have a responsibility to him. I held my baby, stroked his back and said: ‘No matter how hard it will be, even if I have to live by picking up rubbish, I will still raise you. Mum brought you into the world – Mum will bring you up.'”
China has seen a dramatic liberalisation of sexual attitudes in recent decades. But while premarital sex has become common, unmarried motherhood has remained a taboo. Only recently have attitudes begun to shift.
Like others who break the country’s strict family-planning laws, an unmarried mother must pay a fine, even if it is her first child. But there was widespread outrage last summer when Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, announced a massive rise in fines for births outside marriage to double the rate for married couples who breach the one-child policy. Officials appeared to water down the plans after the backlash, and a health and family-planning official said this week that she believed the increase had never been implemented.
Until 1997, sex outside marriage was illegal and classed as “hooliganism”, according to the sociologist and sexologist Li Yinhe. Having children outside wedlock “was regarded as heinous”. Even now it is stigmatised: Xiao, then living in Shenzhen, told neighbours she was married and her husband was travelling.
Meanwhile, the widespread availability of abortion allows women to end unwanted pregnancies with relative ease. In the west, women may face pressure not to have an abortion. But Zhang Wenwen, a single mother in Beijing, said everyone tried to convince her to terminate her pregnancy. Friends accused her of stubbornness when she refused. Her sister said it would be selfish to upset their parents. “I’m very proud of my son and I’m very happy to tell everyone I meet about him,” said Zhang. “But I think everyone is prejudiced, including my parents.”
Zhang Wenwen, from Beijing, says she has been turned down for a job because she is a single mother
Zhang Wenwen, a single mother in Beijing, says she has been turned down for a job because she had a child outside marriage. Photograph: Tania Branigan
She struggled to find work, with one company stating point-blank that it could not hire her because she was unmarried. “I said, I am not ashamed. But the human-resources person said: ‘People will think you did something wrong and talk about you. It’s not good for the company,'” she recalled.
Such prejudice compounds the financial burden of many single mothers. While men should normally pay about 20-30% of their income in maintenance, enforcement is often difficult, said Ming Li, a lawyer who has acted for Zhang.
Xiao, who received no child support from her ex-boyfriend, said she thought she would have to sell her kidney to pay her son’s medical fees after he caught pneumonia. “Many times, I felt I had lost the confidence to live,” she said.
She was found by Little Bird, a grassroots organisation for migrant workers, which subsidised the hospital bill and referred her to a counsellor. Later, it helped her find a husband who accepted the baby. Her marriage led to reconciliation with her parents, who had refused to see her.
There are hints of a shift in official attitudes. Perhaps as a result of last year’s controversy, Hubei has now taken one step towards fairer treatment of unmarried mothers. It has ordered health authorities to issue free birth certificates, even if the mother is not married. It is thought to be the first province to guarantee this right, rather than leaving it to officials’ discretion. Children need the birth certificate to obtain a hukou, or household registration, which is key to accessing basic services such as health and education.
Gu Baochang, an expert on demographics at Renmin University, said the announcement showed that family-planning authorities were gradually making more efforts to serve unmarried parents.
“It is not meant to encourage women to give birth outside marriage but to protect the rights of unmarried mothers and their children,” said Lu Ying, a gender research expert from Sun Yatsen University.
Xiao said she would never encourage women to become single mothers: “It is really, really tough,” she said. But prejudice led to mothers abandoning their babies, she warned, calling for sympathy and understanding for women in her situation. “We already have so much pressure in life. If society discriminates against us too, it is really hard to live,” she said.
Additional research by Cecily Huang