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November 16, 2011

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Couples say no to a 2nd child

More than 90 percent of young couples in Shanghai are eligible to have a second child, but most choose not to, mainly because of the high cost of raising children, the city's population officials said yesterday.

China's population policy allows city couples who both come from one-child families to have a second child, while couples in rural areas can have a second if just one of them is from a one-child family.

Most young couples in Shanghai are now from one-child families as a result of the one-child policy introduced in the 1970s, Zhang Meixing, an official of the city's Commission of Population and Family Planning, told a briefing for consulates.

Sun Changmin, deputy director of the commission, said: "Many abandon the right to have a second baby because it will cost more for a local family to bring up a child, especially with the city's surging housing prices."

Sun said another reason was that many young people were accustomed to living in a family of three so were more likely to have just one child.

Shanghai has seen a negative growth in registered residents for 16 years and last year, 23.4 percent of the local population was over 60, 10 percent more than the national level.

Some local people are urging the commission to loosen the population policy, allowing families where both spouses are registered residents to have a second child.

"The policy will not loosen so far, but local young couples can make use of the policy more properly to ease the city's aging situation and low birth rate," Sun said.

A recent study by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences found that 45 percent of city families were not keen to have a second child.

Sun said the proportion would be higher among young people.

Zhang said the commission would offer health reproduction guides and pre-pregnancy checks to "lead" couples to have a second child.

While the city has a low birth rate among the local population, there are an increasing number of people moving to the city. The city's permanent population increased by 9.7 million in the past 20 years, while the migrant population increased by 5.5 million in 10 years, said Xie Lingli, the commission's director.

"More than 40 percent of the city's population is now from neighboring provinces or abroad," Xie said.


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