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May 30, 2012

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Migrants having many more kids than locals, leading to complaints

MIGRANTS in Shanghai are having two or more children at a much higher rate than locals, some of whom have complained about crowded conditions at larger maternity hospitals, officials said.

For the local registered population, 7.08 percent of children born last year represented a family's second child and 0.11 percent was the third or higher in the family, according to Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

But 36.29 percent of children delivered by migrant people living in the city for at least six months last year represented their second child and 2.61 percent was the third child or higher.

Local pregnant women have complained that they have to arrive at major maternity hospitals early in the morning or the previous night to register for prenatal and delivery services. Too many migrant women are straining limited resources, they have said. Hospital officials say they have to restrict the number to ensure the quality of their services.

Population commission officials didn't release the figure of children delivered by migrants in violation of population laws. But they said migrants staying in the city for over six months are considered local residents for purposes of health care and should have access to local services.

Local couples can have a second child under a few conditions, such as when both spouses are from one-child families and the first child has a non-inherited disease. In some provinces, rural couples are allowed to have a second child if their first child is a girl.

Population officials said Shanghai is in the midst of a baby boom. About 180,000 children are expected to be born this year, roughly the same as in 2011.

The boom is because people born in the previous boom in the 1980s are starting their families and because of the rising number of migrants.

This year, too, a large number of children is expected because it is the auspicious Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar.

Among the 180,000 children born locally last year, 101,500 were from those with registered residency and 78,500 were from migrants in the city at least six months.

Shanghai has improved education and tightened population management over migrants, who are to be fined if they have an unlawful child while still registered elsewhere. But many are willing to pay the fine, which can be earned by working in Shanghai for a year or two.

Officials noted that most crowded maternity hospitals are the big, well-known ones. They suggested pregnant women go to nearby district-based maternity hospitals.

The city has 84 hospitals with the capability to deliver 230,000 children a year, said Shanghai Health Bureau.


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