For over 5,000 years of Chinese history, children have been at the cornerstone of the family. In fact, for many elderly Chinese, their children (and grandchildren)’s well-being and success is more important than their own. Instead of traveling, they sacrifice their retirement to help raise their grandchildren. 

And children are expected to help their parents during their elderly years. As the saying goes, “raise a child to gain support when you get old (养儿防老).” Loneliness is a hard pill to swallow, so who wouldn’t want their grandchildren and children to visit them

Yet, these attitudes are changing. An article in the South China Morning Post mentioned two in ten Hongkongers between the ages of 20 and 39 do not want to have children at allIn the Mainland, big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing are experiencing the same trend. Birthrates in China are steadily declining every year. 

Why are Chinese millennials saying no to motherhood? 

Here is my take:

  1. 1 Buying expensive baby formula? I’d rather buy myself a new purse!

    Materialism is now a way of life- especially for those of us in the big cities and kids are a huge financial burden.  For those who just turned 25, the cost of nurturing children is a zero-sum game that takes away their option to enjoy fine dining on a lovely night

    Besides, China is filled with only children who are more or less spoiled by an affluent material life and effusive love from their parents. Giving up this lifestyle and transforming into the role of parent? It’s too early! I’m just not ready yet.

  2. 2 Who makes the money? Who does the housework? Who educates the kid? It’s too overwhelming.

    Chinese young people are in the midst of a global turning point. Rapid technological advancement brings opportunities; it also comes with pressure and the risk of unemployment.  

    If I am anxious about next month's rent, why should I increase my anxiety with the pressure of children- tuition, school, child rearing

    In fact, many couples fight constantly about their children. 

    A woman who earns enough to cover the family's expenses may face the difficult move to stay at home. Are you really willing to give up an exciting career? If you avoid raising a kid, you can avoid such an overwhelming responsibility.

  3. 3 My apartment is just fine; I don’t have an extra room for a baby.

    You’ve probably heard about the insanely high housing prices in China’s big cities, especially in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. A couple's wages may be enough for a studio or 1BD/1BA. Is it enough for a kid?

    I would either have to rent a bigger apartment in the city or move to the countryside to escape high-priced rent. It would be extremely inconvenient and time-consuming to choose the latter. 

    Raising a kid also means abandoning the current lifestyle and expenses. More and more Chinese young people are determined to be financially independent from their parents. In such a case, it would be embarrassing to ask their parents to help them afford the renting/buying a bigger house. Therefore, young people in Chinese big cities hesitate before making the decision to raise a kid

    What do you think? Share your comments below. 

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Cindy Wu

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