Shanghai women balk at having a second child
Updated: 2015-02-06 11:28
By Li Yang in Shanghai(China Daily USA)
Children receive dance instruction on the weekend in Shanghai.The high cost of raising a child in a big city increases the hesitation among families considering having a second child. [Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily]
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 migrant-worker 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-on-year 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."
Children receive dance instruction on the weekend in Shanghai.The high cost of raising a child in a big city increases the hesitation among families considering having a second child. Gao Erqiang / China Daily