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October 23, 2009

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Baby boom to echo for 10 years

SHANGHAI population authorities expect about 165,000 infants to be born among city residents this year, close to last year's figure and continuing a baby boom that started in 2007 and may last for another eight to 10 years.

Yet despite the surge in newborns, an increasing number of people say they want smaller families because of the high cost of child raising, the desire to continue enjoying a double-income, no-kids lifestyle and worry about the effects of children on their career, a survey by the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

The main reason for the current baby boom is because people born in the 1980s, the progeny of a previous baby boom, are coming of age to marry and have children, officials said. It's also the result of more people from other provinces giving birth in the city.

In the first eight months of this year, the city welcomed 110,000 newborns, including 59,700 delivered by registered residents and 50,300 by outsiders who have lived here for more than six months.

"Shanghai began to experience the annual birth of some 160,000 babies in 2007, a big rise from the previous year's 134,000," said Zhao Yong, vice director of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission. "The curve will continue at a high level for about 10 years."

New attitudes about children may eventually put a crimp in the pattern, however.

The population commission conducted a survey in May to gain a better understanding of local attitudes toward family planning. It questioned 12,000 residents between age 20 and 45 about their desire to have children.

For every 100,000 registered residents, the study calculated the wish to have a total of 107 children, 10 fewer than in 2003. For the migrant population, the figure was 133 children for every 100 respondents, similar to a survey in 2004.

"The percentage of people not wanting children is growing," said Xie Lingli, director of the family planning commission.

Nearly 8 percent of the registered population now don't want children, 3.37 percentage points higher than in 2003. About 2.49 percent of migrant people want to remain childless, 1.1 points higher than in 2004.

Officials said the declining desire for offspring may further worsen the city's aging demographic structure. To address the problem, the government has begun to launch measures such as encouraging couples without siblings to have a second child.

The survey also found that people who are the only child of a family have a lower desire to have their own kids than those with siblings, and people with higher incomes are likely to want more children.


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