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June 24, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Family policy may be changed

SHANGHAI is looking to change its strict family planning policy because an aging society and low birth rate have created a population imbalance.

Officials from the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday it has made suggestions for new rules to enable families to have more than one child.

Details are still under discussion. Once ready, the new policy will be sent to the state population commission and local government for approval.

Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission, said the new population policy needs to both balance the population structure and control the number of people in the city.

The fertility rate of the city's local registered population was 0.83 last year, lower than the national level of 1.6-1.8 and the 1.7 average in Western developed countries.

Officials said the city's fertility rate was "super low" since it means each woman will give birth to an average of 0.83 children in her life time. The city's fertility rate has been below 1 since 1994.

Shanghai has an unhealthy population structure which could impact its social development, officials said.

More than 22 percent of the local registered population is 60 years of age or older.

The percentage will increase to 28.1 in 2015, 36.6 in 2025 and 38 in 2030.

Meanwhile, registered people 14 years of age or below in 2008 was 1.16 million, or 8.4 percent of the total population. The figure is only half of that in 1992 and lower than the national average of 10.6 percent.

"If proper measures are not introduced, this imbalance will impact economic development and influence the city's sustainable growth," Xie said.

Last year, Shanghai's population hit 19.21 million, including registered people and migrants staying for at least six months. The number is expected to grow to 21.4 million in 2015 and 22.5 million in 2020.

A large population puts pressure on the city to provide essential services such as energy, water and transport.

From 2004 to 2009, 35,294 couples legally had a second child in the city. Last year, 4,450 such children were born. In those five years, 12,464 people were punished for delivering unlawful children.

Officials said the local government is also discussing changing a 5 yuan (74 US cents) monthly bonus for each family that has only one child. The policy was launched in 1984 and has never been changed even though other provinces have raised the amount considerably.

Both the public and city officials have called for increasing the bonus or providing another award like setting up a foundation to provide compensation for families whose only child suffers a serious disease or injury.


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