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December 12, 2012

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Shanghai's 220,000 little ones

SHANGHAI expects to see 220,000 babies born this year, 40,000 more than in 2011 and the highest number since the year 2000.

About 160,000 children were born in the city by the end of September: 90,000 to people with registered residency and 70,000 to migrant families.

That was 13,000 more children for each group compared with the same period of last year, Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission officials said yesterday.

The commission's director, Huang Hong, said there were three main reasons for this year's increase. "People born in the 1980s, the previous baby boom, are now getting married and having a family, more children are being born to couples eligible to have a second child, and the rising number of migrant people," she said.

Officials said the current baby boom, which began in 2006, should continue to 2017.

By the end of September, Shanghai had 23.71 million residents. There were 14.21 million people with registered residency, some of whom live elsewhere, and 9.65 million migrants.

Though Shanghai is seeing a growing number of newborns, the rapid approach of the "aging society" has not slowed.

In 2011, 3.48 million registered residents were over 60, 2.34 million of them over 65.

The number of people over the age of 60 is expected to rise by 200,000 a year to 2015, by which time they will be 30 percent of the registered population.

"While the population is growing, the population density in the city also keeps rising," Huang said. "It was 3,702 persons per square kilometer in 2011, while it was 2,588 per square kilometer in 2000."

With the construction of new towns, new residential complexes on the outskirts and the extension of Metro lines, the number of people living in the downtown area has begun to fall. "However, the problems of overcrowding in downtown and a too scattered population in the outskirts haven't been solved," Huang said.

Officials said the city has worked hard to enhance its population service and management by offering free pre-pregnancy checks and improving the birth gender ratio through curbing non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions.

The city is seeing more boys born than girls, though the ratio has been declining since 2008.

The birth gender ratio among registered residents continues to be in the acceptable range of 103-107 boys to 100 girls. However, it is about 120 boys to 100 girls in the migrant community due to their preference for boys.

By October this year, the authority said that it had cracked down on 15 cases of illegal checks on the gender of unborn babies and illegal abortions due to gender, catching a total of 156 suspects.


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