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March 22, 2013

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Eligible families to be given 'guidance' over second child

Shanghai couples still deciding whether to have a second baby can seek family planning "guidance" from local population authorities, officials said yesterday.

Many young couples in Shanghai are eligible to have a second child under current policy but very few have done so, officials with the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission told the China News Service.

There are certain conditions where couples can have a second child - for example, where both are from a one-child family.

Last year, however, just 8.6 percent of couples with Shanghai residency where both spouses were from one-child families had a second child, the officials said.

A survey of young couples in the city found that many who were eligible to have a second child said they wouldn't because of their careers or the expense involved.

The survey sparked concerns over the rapid approach of the "aging society" with too few children in relation to the number of elderly people. A couple both born in the 1980s said they decided not to have a second baby as they felt they could not afford it.

"It would cost a lot to send two children to kindergarten and, when they are old enough, to university. We may not be able to afford to raise them or purchase apartments for them," the couple said.

A woman surnamed Zhao told the China News Service that she was expecting a baby after having had a daughter who is now at elementary school.

Zhao said she decided to have a second baby because she didn't want her daughter to grow up alone.

Officials with the commission told the CNS that they will provide family planning guidance, which indicates encouragement, to local young families if they are undecided about whether they should have a second baby.

About 220,000 children were thought to have been born in Shanghai last year, 40,000 more than in 2011, with an increasing proportion born to couples eligible to have a second child and to the city's growing migrant population.

As of last 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.

About a quarter of the registered population is over the age of 60 while children under 14 make up just 8.6 percent.


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