China will next year introduce new financial incentives to encourage its 750 million rural residents to have fewer children, state media said yesterday.
Parents in the countryside aged over 60 will each year receive 600 yuan (US$76) if they have only one child, or two girls, the China Daily reported, quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission. The incentive equates to just under a fifth of an average farmer's net income of 3,225 yuan a year, according to government statistics for last year.
The lack of a social security system for farmers has often forced couples to exceed birth quotas or abandon girls so they could have a son.
A pilot project has been in place in 23 provinces and regions since 2002, covering 1.35 million senior citizens in rural areas, the newspaper said.
Under China's so-called "one child" policy, introduced over two decades ago, couples living in cities are allowed to have just one child. In the countryside, parents are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl.
Although the law states only that financial measures should be used to enforce and encourage the implementation of the policy, critics have long said gross human rights abuses have been carried out under its name.
Forced abortions and sterilizations of women by government officials, as well as abandonment and infanticide of baby girls due to traditional preferences for sons, have been widespread, according to rights groups.