Thursday, 23 July 2009

Shanghai encourages parents to have two children

SHANGHAI — Family planning officials in Shanghai are making home visits and slipping leaflets under doorways to encourage certain residents to have a second child in a bid to balance the city's expanding senior population. A statement about the new campaign posted Thursday on the Web site of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission was quick to emphasize that it didn't signal any change in China's one-child rule and was only an attempt to let people know about the policy's many exceptions. About 3 million, or 21 percent, of Shanghai's nearly 13.7 million registered residents are now aged 60 or older, the statement said. Xie Lingli, the commission's director, was quoted as saying authorities will go door to door to try to encourage couples to have a second child if both grew up as only children. The commission also plans to offer emotional and financial counseling for interested couples, the statement said. Divorced parents in Shanghai may also have a second child with a new spouse, it said. The campaign is aimed at reducing the ratio of elderly people and preventing future labor shortages, it said. A spokeswoman for the commission who would only give her surname, Zong, said officials in charge of the campaign were not immediately available for comment. A report issued this year by a U.S.-based group said China's current ratio of 16 elderly people per 100 workers is set to double by 2025, then double again to 61 by 2050, due partly to the country's strict family planning limits. Without a universal pension system to cover all the elderly, millions of older Chinese could fall into poverty, triggering social and political unrest, the Global Aging Initiative at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said in the April report. China introduced strict family planning limits in the late 1970s, allowing most couples to have just one child. The policy was designed to control the country's exploding population and ensure better education and health care. The law includes exceptions for ethnic groups, rural families and families in which both parents are only children.
@ 'HuffPo'

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