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Call to scrap one-child policy as population ages

Shanghai Daily, December 24, 2014 Adjust font size:

After disappointing results from China's easing of the one-child policy, experts are urging the government to fully lift restrictions to counteract the nation's aging population.

Last week, a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report highlighted China's diminishing fertility rate.

Cai Fang, who co-compiled the report, said new rules allowing couples a second child if just one of them is an only child would make little difference.

China is on its way to an aging society, the report said, and Cai called on the government to lift all restrictions, "the sooner, the better."

But as a graying China encourages its residents to have more babies, a large number of couples are giving the second-child policy the cold shoulder.

Zhang Long, a civil servant in Beijing and a father of a 4-year-old, said he and his wife had decided against a second child because of the extra expense.

The government relaxed the one-child policy after a meeting of the Party's Central Committee in November 2013, but there has been a lackluster response, with many young couples feeling pressured by work and living costs.

Of the country's 11 million couples eligible for a second child, only 800,000 had applied to do so by the end of September, according to National Health and Family Planning Commission figures.

A survey by China Youth Daily last month found that more than half of 2,052 respondents had not applied due to "high economic costs," with "too much time needed" and "it was enough to have only one child" as the next most popular responses.

If the population policy is not reformed, the future population growth rate will threaten the current trend of a fast-growing economy, said Lu Yang, co-author of the report.

China's central authorities, however, remain cautious, with the commission repeatedly saying there is no timeline for further changes.

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