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July 11, 2012

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Rise of city's one-child parents

FROM next year, 80 percent of Shanghai residents reaching the age of 60 will be parents in one-child families, thus posing potential problems in caring for the elderly, officials from the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

Currently the city is facing a rapid rise in its population, especially of older people, while the birth rate is low, officials told an experts' advisory council on Shanghai's population and development.

Chen Li, vice director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said the nation would be sticking to its family planning policy while perfecting its service and enhancing its information systems.

He said the country's population would drop after reaching a peak of 1.45 billion in around 12 years' time. He said the country's labor force would fall and elderly people would make up a third of the population by the middle of the 21st century.

He said the unbalanced birth gender ratio was also a serious problem for China, though it has been dropping since 2009.

The national ratio was as high as 117.78 boys versus 100 girls last year with over half of China's provinces exceeding a ratio of 115 boys to 100 girls, far higher than the healthy norm of 103 to 107 boys for every 100 girls.

The birth gender ratio in Shanghai was 113.1 boys to 100 girls last year.

Yu Hongsheng, director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Urban Development Research Center, said Shanghai should give serious consideration to its population size and population distribution.

He said the city's infrastructure was designed in line with a population being controlled to within 25 million by 2020. If that limit was surpassed, there would have to be major changes in infrastructure such as power and water supplies, downtown roads and Metro lines.

By 2011, Shanghai had 23.47 million residents, including those with registered residency and migrant people staying in the city for over six months. The population rose by 455,000 from 2010 and was rising by 661,000 annually between 2000 and 2010.

However, of the total registered population, youngsters below 14 years old account for just 8.6 percent, lower than the national level (16.8 percent) and developed countries, which have 13 to 15 percent of the population as youngsters.

Huang Hong, director of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission, said the city was encouraging couples who were eligible to have a second child to make full use of the opportunity and was also offering help to those with infertility in a bid to ease the unbalanced population structure, and to guide population flow from crowded downtown areas to new towns.


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