“How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”

Me and my coworkers take a cab. One of them recently became a father for a second time. The driver asks him:

“How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”
Coworker: “220,000 Chinese Yuan (around 27,000 EUR or 40,000 USD).”
Driver: “Wow, that’s a considerable sum for a hukou*. We registered our second child back at home. 220,000 Yuan just for a hukou, now that’s being registered in Shenzhen not worth!”
Coworker: “Where are you from?”
Driver: “I’m from the countryside of Hunan. When we got our second child, we just needed to treat the people responsible to a nice dinner with enough drinks and give them presents, that was it. That’s how it works where I’m from. 220,000 is such an unbelievable sum.”
Coworker: “I’m from Hunan too. We also went back and gave birth to our second child there. But it’s still governed quite strictly, we had to pay 50,000 Chinese Yuan. Nevertheless, it’s much cheaper than Shenzhen. I’m from the Xiangtan area, really close to where Mao was born. They are quite strict about those things there. Anyways, nowadays a Shenzhen hukou isn’t as good as it was in the past. Today, a rural hukou can be even better than an urban one. You will sometimes get a subsidy you wouldn’t get in Shenzhen.”

*户口 (Hùkǒu) is the Chinese word for a record in the Chinese household registration system. In China, where you are registered will determine where you can go to school, get healthcare and much more or how much you will have to pay for these things if you aren’t registered in the city you’re living in.

What do you think about the one-child-policy and the hukou-system? I’d like to read your thoughts.

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7 thoughts on ““How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”

    • I think people who give birth in HK don’t necessarily do that for money reasons, but rather for a HK passport. To be honest, it’s understandable if you know how restricted you are with a mainland passport. Giving birth in HK is not necessarily cheap (just think of hospital costs and living costs for the time before they give birth). Maybe not 220k if it’s a second child, but still not cheap either.


      • passport is also case. there are many moms who live next to the boarder and just send a child to school to HK everyday – personally I feel sorry for a child – so now they want their children to get place in schools closer to the boarder and move local children further (big argument in HK about it). I remember few months ago there was a Shenzen pharmacist lady – tried to cross the boarder to HK few times but since her pregnancy was already late they didn’t want to do it. 3rd time she started to deliver so they took her to HK hospital because it was closer but governemnt refused to give him a citizenship. mother after going about from hospital lay down in gov building with her child and said she won’t go until they give her child’s HK birth certificate. later I read she already had 2 mainland born children. I guess even pharmacist cannot afford such a fees. Now I can only imagine how much it must cost in Beijing or Shanghai. Probably like first payment of a flat. It’s also weird for me to see my husband’s parents – dad has 5 silbling (but they are from HK), mom has brother and a sister, my husband’s mainland friend’s parents also have at least 2 siblings but our generation is that lonely one child.


  1. Whenever you hear a conversation like this tell them that over in Europe we pay mothers to have children – in Britain not only do you get child benefit but child tax credit (a confusing name because you don’t actually have to pay any taxes to be “credited”). There have been so many stories of women (or couples who both don’t work) claiming £30,000+ in benefits (around 40,000 euro).

    Respond with that the next time and see their reaction!


    • I have told people before, their reaction is usually : “Social welfare state”. They will tell you that China is still a developing country and that there are too many people in China to make it a social welfare state. Some are surprised too, especially if they are younger and don’t know much about the world yet. Once a Chinese guy living in Austria told me how Austria is actually more socialist than China, because everyone has health care insurance and gets child benefits and things like that.


      • By that definition of Socialist I think the US is the most Socialist due to heavy state involvement in areas of the economy more often in private hands in the EU. For example, in the US, the US Postal Service is isolated from market pressures more so than similar services in the EU such as the Austrian Post. The emergency use of a toilet is generally a public service in the US rather than subject to the cold brutality of market forces and pay for use service as is often the case in the EU. And that doesn’t begin to discuss the superior level of state support for library systems in the US, which are extremely extensive in the US and normally without any out of pocket cost to the citizenry. (When there are costs, they are normally so low as to be thought of as a joke.) In my state, there is a very controversial discussion regarding the potential privatization of the vast network of municipally owned golf courses, which many fear could lead to the sport of golf becoming too expensive for more people. Worse yet, municipal owned liquor stores are fewer each year as the invisible hand of the market leads more municipalities to conclude they can’t compete with private enterprise in selling low alcohol beverages to a thirsty public.

        Alternatively, people could choose to stick to the dictionary’s definition of socialism, which in English is normally something very near to “state control of the means of production,” and conclude neither social welfare nor schizophrenic array of state controlled enterprises competing openly in the marketplace with private enterprise constitute socialism.


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