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Baby boom urgently required

THE Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission is launching a campaign to encourage eligible couples to give birth to a second child as concerns mount over a rapidly aging population.

Population officials have started to meet families to inform them about the policy on a second child and provide consulting services, according to Xie Lingli, director of the commission.

The campaign was to help reduce the high elderly ratio and prevent future labor shortages, Xie said, stressing that it did not signify a change in either national or city family-planning policies.

"Shanghai has about 3 million people aged 60 or older, 21.6 percent of the population," the commission director said.

"The rising number of retirees will put pressure on the younger generation and the social security system," Xie said.

Since the city canceled a rule enforcing a four-year interval between the first and second births in 2004, births of second children have risen from 2,910 in 2005 to 3,934 in 2007, the commission said.

The amended Shanghai Population and Family Planning Rule enacted in April 2004 identified nine types of urban couples and 12 types of rural couples eligible for a second child.

Examples include when both spouses are from a one-child family and one spouse is from a one-child family and the other has rural residency.

Divorced Shanghai residents are allowed a child with a new spouse if one spouse has no child and the other has one or two children from the previous marriage. Both spouses having one child in the previous marriage are also allowed to have one child if they are both from one-child family.

Couples with one disabled spouse whose ability to work is impaired can also have more than one child.

"However, many young eligible couples don't want to have two children," said Xie, quoting a survey the commission conducted in the city last year on 3,425 young and middle-aged white-collar couples' parenthood plans.

The survey found each couple, on average, wanted to have 1.6 children.

"It may be because people from one-child families are used to that family format," Xie said.

Shanghai families with one child account for 97 percent of the city population of nearly 19 million, according to the population commission.


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