Experts predict new baby boom

By Chen Xiaoru Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-20 22:53:01

Experts predicted Monday that a short-term baby boom will arrive after the municipal government announced plans to loosen family planning restrictions later this year.

The baby boom could last for two to five years after the looser rules take effect, said Wu Ruijun, the director of the Population Research Institute at East China Normal University.

"There has been an accumulation of couples willing to have a second child who will qualify after the government loosens the restrictions," Wu told the Global Times Monday.

The planned change, which the director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning announced at Sunday's meeting of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, will allow more couples in the city to have a second child, the Oriental Morning Post reported Monday. The director said the change will take effect by the end of June.

Under the loosened restrictions, couples with Shanghai residency will be able to have a second child if at least one spouse is the only child in his or her family. Currently, Shanghai couples are only allowed to have a second child if both spouses are the only child in their families.

Wu said the new policy will give about 400,000 families the right to have a second child and predicted a short-term spike in the city's future population.

"The government should take steps to prevent a sudden baby boom, such as publishing updated information about the number of newborns in the city, which would allow couples to decide for themselves whether they should wait to have another child," Wu said.

Still, when family planning restrictions were loosened in the past, most couples who qualified to have a second child didn't take advantage of the privilege. Although about 2 million couples are allowed to have a second child under the current rules, only 0.35 percent have actually had another baby over the past five years, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning.

Wu said that the government could also prevent the baby boom by giving preference to older couples.

"The government should consider setting up an age threshold for mothers who want a second child. I suggest that mothers over 28 years old should be allowed to have a second child before younger mothers," Wu said.

Wu Junqing, an expert from the Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research, suggested that the government should focus on the health of couples who want a second child.

"Because many people in Shanghai have their first child late in life, many couples find themselves at a relatively old age when they plan to have their second child. The government needs to pay close attention to the health of the couple, and give out speeches and trainings to guide them," Wu Junqing said.

She also said that companies need to respect the rights of employed women who choose to have a second child.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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