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May 5, 2012

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Home » Metro » Education

Too few children as city's population keeps growing

THE number of Shanghai residents is rising but the birth rate remains low, resulting in a growing imbalance between the city's elderly and its young people.

However, migrants, mostly involved in agriculture and the industrial sector, now make up 40 percent of city residents, helping to bolster the labor force and improve the population structure.

Shanghai's Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday that it would tackle an "unhealthy" birth gender ratio, providing reproductive education and services to the migrant population and carrying out a study to coordinate population and social development.

The city had 23.47 million residents last year, 455,000 more than 2010 and 1.7 percent of China's total population.

The residents include migrant people who stay in the city for more than six months.

The commission said that the growth rate of Shanghai residents in the past decade was much higher than the national level and the average level of the Yangtze river delta region due to the large numbers of migrants.

There were 9.35 million migrant people living in Shanghai by the end of last year. Most lived in the outskirts and their average age was 31.6 years.

People were continuing to move from downtown areas to the outskirts, the commission said.

Last year there were 3,702 people per square kilometer in Shanghai, the highest population density in China.

Commission officials said the current baby boom would continue this year with around 180,000 children expected to be born, the same as in 2011. Of the children born last year, 101,500 were delivered by people with registered residency and 78,500 were children of migrant people.

The city's natural population growth rate, the number of people born compared to those who died, was 2.64 per 1,000 last year, while the growth rate for registered residents was minus 0.68 per 1,000.

The registered population's total birth rate was 0.90 last year, meaning there would be nine children born for every 10 women over their lifetime.

The long-term low birth rate has caused too many older people and too few children and youngsters.

Last year, there were 3.31 million people aged 60 or more, some 23.4 percent of the registered population. Children under 14 made up 8.6 percent of the registered population, 7.9 percentage points below the national level.

Young workers, those aged between 25 and 44, were 26.9 percent of the city's labor force.

"The small number of children and young working population means the city will further depend on migrant people for local economic development and city construction," said Huang Hong, the commission's director.

While the city has too few children, there is another problem - the growing number of boys compared to girls.

After carrying out girl preferential policies and strictly banning non-medical sex check and sex-selective abortions to control the gender imbalance, the birth gender ratio has been declining in recent years but still higher than it should be, officials said.

The city's gender ratio in 2011 was 113.1 boys for every 100 girls.

In 2010, it was 113.9 boys to 100 girls.

The birth gender ratio of migrants, mostly farmers who were keen to have boys rather than girls, was 119.2 boys to every 100 girls last year, dropping by 1.3 from 2010.

Among the registered population, the ratio was 106.7 boys for every 100 girls, in line with the desired norm of 107 boys to every 100 girls, as boys have higher mortality.

Last year, Shanghai shut 716 illegal clinics and caught 698 unlicensed doctors offering illegal gender checks and abortion services, the commission said.


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