China's Sichuan province allows the unmarried to legally have children

The move comes as China saw its first population decline in nearly sixty years.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
The privileges that come with having children and starting a family in China's Sichuan province has long been reserved for married couples. That is set to change, however, thanks to a new law passed by provincial health authorities.

Under the new regulations, which are part of an attempt to bolster the nation's declining birth rate, unmarried individuals will be given the same rights and permissions as those who have tied the knot.

According to Reuters, when the new regulations come into effect on February 15, any individual regardless of marital status will be able to register as a potential parent with Sichuan authorities, a right previously only granted to married couples.

Registering with the government brings with it a host of benefits, including maternity insurance to cover hospital visits, and the ability for married women to continue receiving a salary while they're away from work on maternity leave.

Also being revamped are restrictions on the number of children Sichuan residents are allowed to have. Benefits were, until 2021, only available to families who produced no more than two offspring, however the law was amended to provide monthly allowances to families if they went for a third. Now, under the new regulations, the limit has been done away with entirely.

Sichuan authorities stated that the measures will stay in place for five years, and are meant to "promote long-term and balanced population development," and will "shift the focus of childbearing registration to childbearing desire and childbearing results."

As the Guardian reports, Sichuan is the sixth most populated province in China, and over 20 percent of citizens are over the age of sixty. In 2022, China as a whole saw its first population decline in nearly sixty years as the consequences of the restrictive one-child policy began to reveal themselves.

Whether the new regulations help change the tides remains to be seen, however many young people across the country have shown little interest in starting a family given the rising cost of living.

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