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China’s record-high youth jobless rate set to worsen even as the Party struggles to improve birth rate

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(TibetanReview.net, May17’23) – After the runaway success of its decades-long, draconian one-child policy, China is now struggling to get its youths to marry and procreate, with little prospect for success. Giving parents job-like salaries for raising children, shortening pre-college education, and offering greater support for working mothers are all receiving consideration, reported the scmp.com May 16. At the same time, youth-unemployment in China has hit a record high, with the situation expected to worsen in the coming months, according to another report.

The scmp.com report cited the head of the China Family Planning Association as saying population is “a matter of national importance”, urging that the costs of raising and educating children needs to be lowered.

At the same time, however, China’s record-high youth unemployment rate at present may climb further in the months to come, a warning sign that will pressure policymakers to take action, reported businesstimes.com.sg May 16.

The jobless rate for 16 to 24-year-olds hit 20.4% last month, nearly four times the national rate, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was stated to show May 16. Pressures will probably only grow this summer, when an estimated 11.58 million graduates are expected to flood the market, the report added.

Rising unemployment adds to the frustration and angst young people feel over their careers and socio-economic status. Last summer, rare protests about Covid controls erupted at some universities, while many have also become disillusioned about their lack of opportunities after mass layoffs in once-popular industries like technology and edutech, the report said.

China’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Wang Xiaoping has described stabilising employment as a “major political responsibility”.

Meanwhile, on the International Day of Families, Chinese authorities took the timely opportunity to stress the importance of boosting population quality while making fresh pledges of support for childbirth, as deepening demographic challenges continue to have an outsized impact on the world’s second-largest economy, said the scmp.com report.

“We should focus on removing various factors that keep people from having children, so that they are willing and can afford to be parents, which will help us achieve a moderate fertility level and optimise the demographic structure”, a commentary in the state-run newspaper Economic Daily was stated as saying in its May 16 edition. May 16 is the annual day to recognise the importance of family, initiated by the United Nations.

Those factors were stated to include insufficient childcare services; high property prices and education costs; and women’s concerns about the impacts on their careers.

Earlier, the China Family Planning Association said on May 12 that 20 cities across the country will engage in a special initiative later this year to reverse a social tendency of avoiding marriage and childbirth. The announcement was made at an event to observe the 30th international family day.

Local governments participating in the effort will promote the push for people to marry and have children at appropriate ages, while encouraging couples to share child-rearing responsibilities and to buck the trend of outdated customs such as high bride prices, a Xinhua report on the event was cited as saying.

China reported its first population decline in 6 decades, with birth rate at record low, in 2022.

The demographic shift is believed to have profound implications on Chinese society, with expectations that it will apply downward pressure on human capital and economic growth in the coming decades, noted the scmp.com report.


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