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Family planning changes win local support

2013-11-25 10:33 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Nearly 70 percent of Shanghai residents surveyed in a poll said they favored two children, giving a thumping vote of approval for the family planning policy.

On November 15, China gave the nod to couples wanting to have two children if one of them was from one-child family. Until recently, both the parents had to be from one-child families to have a second child.

Following heated debate over the new rules, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau surveyed 1,005 people over the age of 16, both singles and married. About 24.5 percent of those surveyed came from single-child families.

The survey found 73.7 percent were in favor of the relaxed family planning rules with 67.1 percent expressing willingness to have two children. More than 82 percent thought growing up with siblings would do good to physical and mental health.

Also, 28.6 percent said they wanted only one child, citing financial concerns. Of them, 67 percent said they could not afford raising two children, and 51 percent claimed they could not spend extra time and energy to take care of two children.

About one out of four in two age groups — between 21 and 30 years of age and another between 51 and 60 years old — factored in economical conditions in their decision making.

More than half of people surveyed agreed with the idea that rich families can have an extra child.

The survey also found that most people still held traditional Chinese views. Nearly 53.2 percent valued extending their family line and 48.1 percent hoped their children would support them in their old age.

About 66 percent said they could not think of having children before marriage.

Unlike people from northern China and rural areas, Shanghai residents prefer daughters rather than sons, with nearly 20 percent saying they preferred girls, while only 5 percent favoring boys. The rest said the gender of the child didn't matter.

Nearly 45 percent said they would feel less burdened if they have girls so that they don't have to worry about buying a house — widely regarded as a must for men during marriages.

With skyrocketing housing prices, some parents who have sons are forced to work after retirement to try and save up to buy a house.

But those with daughters have no such fears.

China introduced one-child policy in the late 1970s to rein in population growth. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said the policy of limiting families to one child, which covers 63 percent of the population, has prevented 400 million births since 1980.

But demographers argued that the birth control had created an aging crisis by limiting the size of the young labor pool that must support the large baby boom generation as it retires.

The local health and family planning commission said it may take six months to a year to introduce the new rules in the city.

Lawmaking procedures are essential before the rule can be enforced, the commission said. A change in the law would have an impact on about 400,000 couples in Shanghai.

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