China expects 1m more births in 2015 as 1m couples apply to have second child


China Population Association (CPA) said that the country was expecting at least one million more births in 2015, as one million couples have applied to have second child.
Head of the CPA, Zhai Zhenwu, said on Monday in Beijing that this was coming up as a result of change in policy and as China eased its one-child policy in 2014, allowing couples to have a second child if either parent was an only child.
He said a total of 16.9 million new citizens came into the world in 2014, 470,000 more than in 2013 and many families were at the preparing stage and the number of newborns was expected to increase noticeably in 2015.
“As the birth policy may continue to be eased, the baby boom may last for five to eight years and more efforts will be made in the public service sector to meet the challenge,’’ he said.
Zhai said China’s family planning policy was first introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first child born was a girl.
He said the policy was later relaxed, with its current form stipulating that both parents must be only children if they were to have a second child.
Zhai, however, noted that a number of social problems had occurred due to the policy.
He added that China’s labour force, aged from 15 to 59, decreased by 3.45 million year on year in 2012, marking the first “absolute decrease” since China’s reform and opening up in 1979.
“As of 2013, the number of Chinese people aged 60 or above exceeded 202 million, 8.53 million more than in 2012 and accounting for 15 per cent of the total population, up 0.6 per centage points,’’ he said.
“Since the 1990s, the annual number of newborns has decreased from more than 20 million to around 16 million, while the lowest number was 15.8 million in 2006.
“Gender imbalance is another side effect of the one-child policy, as Chinese parents’ preference for sons led to abortions of female fetuses,’’ he added.
Zhai said in the past 20 years, the sex ratio of newborns remained above 115 to 100 (men to women). In 2014, the ratio dropped to 115.88 to 100 from 117.6 to 100 in 2013.
Yang Wenzhuang, the Head of National Health and Family Planning Commission, said the number of Chinese women of childbearing age had declined, while the number of births increased, showing the effect of the changes to the birth policy.
He said the changed policy was piloted in east China’s Zhejiang Province in January 2014, and couples nationwide may now have a second child if either parent was an only child.
“By the end of 2014, around one million couples had applied to have a second child,’’ he said.


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