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January 21, 2014

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City set to adopt revised family planning policy

The amended one-child policy that will allow more families to have a second child will be passed in Shanghai before March, a senior official with the Shanghai People’s Congress said yesterday.

The legislative body will work out a draft law soon and is expected to approve it at the first session of the SPC’s Standing Committee after the on-going annual session of the congress, said Ding Wei, director of its legislative affairs commission.

“The process will be very fast because we will only make some slight changes to the current national one-child policy law,” Ding said yesterday.

To ensure its speedy introduction, there will be a single discussion and vote, he said. Normally, a new law is discussed and amended several times.

China announced the new policy in November, which would allow couples with one partner from a one-child family to have a second child. Previously, in most cases, both spouses had to come from a one-child family to qualify.

Each region is expected to introduce the policy after their people’s congress amends the existing family planning law.  Neighboring Zhejiang Province became the first region to do so last week.

There will be some 300,000 eligible couples under the new policy in Shanghai, said Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission. A survey has found that up to 70 percent of such couples want a second child.

The city’s education authority has collaborated with the family planning authority to ensure educational resources can meet the demands of the additional number of children expected as a result of the policy change, said Su Ming, director of the Shanghai Education Commission.

“The education authority will adjust the number of teachers at local schools to meet the demand,” Su said.

Shanghai had a record-setting number of 239,600 babies delivered in 2012. The numbers were down 5 percent last year.

Xu said local hospitals last year increased the number of beds to meet the expected rise in the number of births.

After the law is passed, eligible couples will be able to take their documents to the family planning authority of their local government for approval.

According to official figures, China’s birth rate has remained relatively low and shows a tendency to decline further.

The rate has dropped to between 1.5 and 1.6 since the 1990s, meaning that Chinese women of child-bearing age would each give birth to 1.5 to 1.6 children on average, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The country’s working population drop in 2012 by 3.45 million, and is likely to reduce by 8 million every year after 2023.

China’s population aged 60 and above will reach 400 million and account for a quarter of the nation’s total population in the early 2030s, up from just a seventh at present, the commission said.



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