A Chinese city will give out cash handouts to encourage childbirth, the first in a nation faced with a rapidly aging population struggling to boost its birthrate.

The government of Panzhihua city in the southwestern province of Sichuan announced Wednesday it will give local families 500 yuan ($77) per baby every month if they have a second or third child, until the babies reach three years old, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The city of 1.2 million people known for its steel industry will also offer free childbirth services to mothers with local household registrations, and set up more nursery schools near workplaces, according to the report.

The Chinese government earlier this month pledged to lower the cost of childbirth, parenting and education meaningfully by 2025, following the decision in May to allow all married couples to have three children.

China’s new births plunged to their lowest in almost six decades last year amid the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic. This points to the prospect that the country’s population, currently at 1.41 billion, may begin to shrink before 2025, according to Bloomberg Economics’ estimates.

The childcare subsidies were part of a broader set of measures announced by the Panzhihua city government to attract talent. The city will also give cash bonuses to qualified top researchers, teachers, medical professionals and entrepreneurs who decide to settle there, according to the report.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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