China’s financial hub will urge eligible couples to have two children as worries about the looming liability of an aging population outweigh concerns about over-stretched resources, the China Daily reported yesterday.
The Shanghai policy marks the first time in decades that Chinese officials have actively encouraged more procreation.
China’s famous “one child” policy is actually less rigorous than its name suggests, allowing urban parents to have two offspring if they are both only children. Rural couples are allowed a second child if their first is a girl.
However, since the late 1970s worries about developing an already highly populated country without straining scarce land, water and energy supplies has meant the government has always pushed to keep families as small as possible.
This is still the official line in most of China, but Shanghai is now apparently rich enough to focus on a new concern — the burden of an aging population on the generation born since the one child policy was unveiled.
The US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies warned in April that by 2050 China will have more than 438 million people older than 60, with more than 100 million of them aged 80 and above.
The country will have just 1.6 working-age adults to support every person aged 60 and above, compared with 7.7 in 1975.