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City home to 23m by 2020

SHANGHAI'S population is expected to grow to 19.5 million in 2010, about 3 percent more than last year.

And by 2020, the city's total should hit 23 million, due to an increase in births, a large influx of new residents and longer life expectancies, according to a conference yesterday held by the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

Officials acknowledged that they have a big job ahead. The issue is not simply controlling the overall population figure; the challenge is ensuring that population growth is taking the right track.

Younger, affluent workers are required to offset Shanghai's increasingly aging resident mix. Increased family planning is needed among the migrant population to reduce an explosion in births. And population trends and demographics must be properly projected to make sure public services keep up with the rise in growth.

"We will perfect a community-based population management and service system and better address the supervision of the migrant population," said the commission's director, Xie Lingli.

Migrants, officials said, are the key challenge. In 2008, there were 5.17 million migrants who lived in the city for at least six months, 180,000 more than in 2007. In districts such as Songjiang and Minhang, migrants dominated the demographics.

Migrants who were here more than six months delivered 65,800 babies last year, nearly 40 percent of all local newborns. Among the migrant births, 7,491 violated family planning rules, representing almost 90 percent of all such violations.

At the same time, Shanghai's long-term residents are having smaller families, and the elderly population is growing.

About 6.1 million local people are parents of a single child. Over one-fifth of all Shanghainese, or some 3 million of those who hold local residency, were 60 years or older last year - double the national average.

This graying trend threatens to produce a labor shortage, enhance the financial burden on the younger generation and put pressure on the medical and welfare systems.

Shanghai is trying to encourage some natural population growth among its long-term residents by allowing couples with no siblings to have two children.

And the city is making it easier for people from other parts of China with the right job skills to obtain residency here.

Highly qualified technicians and business owners who make significant financial contributions to the city can be fast-tracked for permanent residency, under new rules released last week.

Yesterday, 40 blue-collar workers from the city's manufacturing industry were granted permanent residency. All had received national or city-level honors.

Officials also reported that the city had nearly 270,000 foreigners last year. The family planning commission said the number was rising but did not provide a figure.


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