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July 31, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

City may seek to loosen child policy

SHANGHAI is considering joining in the test of a looser family planning policy in the country, a change that would allow a couple to give birth to a second child if just one of the spouses has been an only child, local lawmakers said yesterday.

Under the city's current policy, only couples who both have been single children themselves can give birth to a second baby.

Xie Lingli, director of the city's Population and Family Planning Commission, said it's time to improve the birth control policies because Shanghai's populace is quickly aging.

Ding Wei, a deputy to the city's People's Congress, the legislative body, said yesterday that Shanghai should try to become one of the test spots of the country's new birth control policy that would enable more families to have second children.

China is going to allow couples with one spouse who is an only child to have a second child in some cities and provinces in the next five years, Xie said.

Gu Xiaoming, another lawmaker, said the city should calculate how many more people will be born if couples with one party being the only child can have a second child.

"We should adopt the policy after we have the number, as the city has already been burdened by the great population," Gu said.

Not every couple is eager to have a two-child household, experts said. Some qualified couples are unwilling or afraid to have a second one due to the high cost of living and fast-paced city life.

Shanghai residents aged 60 or older make up more than 22 percent of the city's population, while those aged 14 and younger in 2008 were only 8.4 percent of the population, according to Xie. That's lower than the national level of 19 percent.

At current rates, the old people will account for 28 percent of the population by 2015, while the ratios for 2020 and 2030 are likely to jump to 34 percent and 38 percent respectively.

Moreover, Shanghai has an extremely low birth rate of 0.83, lower than the country's average of 1.6 to 1.8.

The global birth rate averages 2.6. In developed countries the figure is 1.7, according to 2009 statistics.

The one-child policy, which was introduced in 1978, restricts the number of children married urban couples can have to one.

Xie, the population director, also said Shanghai's population -- 19.21 million residents at the end of last year -- will keep rising, reaching 21.40 million in 2015 and 22.5 million in 2020.

That includes the registered population and migrant people staying in the city for more than six months.

Mayor Han Zheng said Shanghai would be the world's most populated city by 2020 with more than 23.5 million residents.

Meanwhile, local lawmakers advised the city government to raise the standard of subsidies to one-child families since it has not been changed in 30 years.

Parents who have one child are able to receive a lump sum of 2,300 yuan (US$340) when they retire.


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