The Standing Committee of the Liaoning Province People's Congress started reviewing the regulation on population and family planning on July 29 to ease anxieties over the second-child policy and improve fertility.
The regulation, submitted by the Liaoning Health Commission, suggested that local governments should reduce the burden on families with two children and provide a package of preferential policies in education, social security, housing and tax relief.
Local governments should provide education subsidies for two-child families, including enrollment in kindergartens and primary schools, in line with local conditions.
Improving fertility is vital for Liaoning, which is home to nearly 44 million people. However, 15 percent of that population is 65 years of age or older, ranking first in China.
In 2016, birthrates in Liaoning were 6.6 per 1,000 people, which dropped to 6.49 per 1,000 people in 2017, about half the national level.
Experts warned that the aging population might drag down economic growth rates and put pressure on pensions, healthcare and other public security systems if the government could not take effective measures to counter the trend.
"The challenges of aging in Liaoning are arriving earlier and faster than in other provinces," said Song Limin, an associate researcher at the Population Research Institute of Liaoning University, adding that the aging trend may haunt the province.
The science, education and culture committee of the Liaoning people's congress proposed three modifications of the proposed regulation of population development.
The first and most important is that the government should implement the support policy and alleviate the burden for families with two children.
And in order to balance the parental responsibility of both spouses, there would be an increased post-pregnancy leave shared by husband and wife.
"It is very difficult for women to balance family and work," said Liu Lili, who works for a consulting company in Shenyang. "Such supporting policies do help me make up my mind about having a second child."
The second modification is that the government should accelerate development of a range of care for infants and younger children, encourage the private sector to run child care and early childhood education centers, and provide better protection for toddlers.
The Liaoning provincial government has pledged to add 2,000 delivery beds and employ another 3,000 obstetricians and midwives by 2020.
The last modification is to encourage population growth in the border area. Those two-children families living in the borderlands can have a third child.
Experts suggested that by 2020, the comprehensive second-child policy could be fully exerted and help maintain the current population. By 2030, the total population of Liaoning would increase to 45 million from the current 43.6 million.
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