Shang­hai women balk at hav­ing a sec­ond child

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YANG in Shang­hai liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More than 90 per­cent of women of child­bear­ing age in Shang­hai qual­ify to have a sec­ond child. But only 5 per­cent ap­plied to do so, the city’s fam­ily-plan­ning author­ity an­nounced last week.

About 200,000 ba­bies were born in Shang­hai last year, about half to mi­grant­worker par­ents.

Shang­hai was one of the first cities to im­ple­ment fam­ily-plan­ning poli­cies in the late 1970s.

Ex­perts es­ti­mate the fer­til­ity rate of lo­cal res­i­dents is about 0.7, the low­est among ma­jor cities in the world. The low fer­til­ity rate makes Shang­hai the first city in China en­ter­ing a pe­riod of be­ing an aging so­ci­ety.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s statis­tics bureau, by the end of 2013, the city had 3.88 mil­lion res­i­dents above 60 years old, ac­count­ing for 27.1 per­cent of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion and up 5.5 per­cent year over year.

“The year 2013 is a turn­ing point for Shang­hai as it saw the largest year-onyear rise in the pop­u­la­tion of se­nior res­i­dents and marked the so­ci­ety en­ter­ing a deep aging phase, ” said Yin Zhi­gang, vice-direc­tor of the Shang­hai Geron­tol­ogy Re­search Cen­ter. He es­ti­mated that by 2023, the pop­u­la­tion above age 60 in Shang­hai will be more than 6 mil­lion.

“The high pres­sure from job and life is an im­por­tant rea­son why many women do not want to have the sec­ond child,” said Li Ming, 34, a mother of a daugh­ter a mid­dle school teacher in Shang­hai. “The high living costs in Shang­hai make hav­ing the sec­ond child a priv­i­lege of the rich peo­ple. The gov­ern­ment does not help the cou­ple rais­ing more kids at all.”

“I am re­ally ner­vous while think­ing about the crowded hos­pi­tal in big cities like Shang­hai and Bei­jing,” said Song Li, 33, a sin­gle woman and an of­fice clerk in Shang­hai. “I do not have ex­tra money to take care of the kid, and my par­ents are too old to take care of it when I have one in the fu­ture.”

The gov­ern­ment should award the peo­ple will­ing to have more chil­dren, rather than fine them, said Zhang Shu, 60, a pri­mary school teacher who was forced to have an abor­tion in 1986 when she was ex­pect­ing her sec­ond baby. “The chil­dren are not only con­sumers, but also in­no­va­tors and cre­ators, if well brought up. So the gov­ern­ment should pro­vide bet­ter public ser­vices for the peo­ple will­ing to have more chil­dren.”

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

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