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February 25, 2014

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1-child change to stretch resources

Shanghai’s educational and health care resources will have to be reallocated to meet an anticipated rise in demand, city lawmakers said yesterday, as they discussed the amended one-child policy ahead of final approval today.

Kindergartens will see enrolment peak in three years and elementary schools in six years following the policy adjustment, said Xue Mingyang, director of the Shanghai People’s Congress education, science and health committee.

Hospitals’ maternity and pediatric departments, and other public facilities, will also face greater pressure with the increasing number of births.

A baby boom as a result of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games put pressure on city resources as more parents gave birth to babies in Olympic year, Xue said.

The number of children at kindergartens surged by 56 percent to over 500,000 in 2013 from 2008, while the number of students at elementary schools increased by 33 percent to 792,500 last year.

The government announced its amended 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.

Neighboring Zhejiang Province became the first region to approve the policy last month. Beijing followed last Friday, but stipulated that a couple can only have a second child four years after their first, or if the mother is older than 28.

Shanghai’s law has no such stipulation.

After the law is passed, couples wanting to have a second child can take their documents to the local family planning authority for approval.

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

Su Ming, director of the Shanghai Education Commission, said earlier that the education authority was working in conjunction with the family planning authority to ensure educational resources meet the demand.

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

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

The working population dropped in 2012 by 3.45 million, and is likely to reduce by 8 million every year after 2023, while the over-60s will account for a quarter of the nation’s total population in the early 2030s.



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