Friday, April 20, 2007

China Faces Baby Boom

China will have a baby boom as more only children, products of the government's family planning policy, grow up and get married, according to a top population officer.

Chinese couples in which both man and wife were raised as single children are now authorized to have two babies.

Young couples raised as only children are now in their twenties, the best age for child bearing, said Zhang Weiqing, director of the State Population and Family Planning Commission.

"There will be an increase in births in the coming years," Zhang said at a forum on China's population science in Beijing on Thursday.

But he did not say how many more babies will be born a year and how long the baby boom will last.

Women's fertility rate dropped to 1.8 percent in China under the effect of the one-child policy but has since risen to 1.87 percent, Zhang said.

The family planning policy limited the fertility rate to 1.8 percent from the mid 1990s, which Zhang said suited China's practical situation.

With more people debating the family planning policy, many assume that the government will loosen birth control, he said, adding "This has made our work of keeping the birth rate at a low level more difficult."

Earlier reports said that in Beijing more than a third of young couples, who were both raised as single children, plan to have two babies.

As a result, the annual newborns in the city will grow from the current 78,000 to 140,000 in 2010.

China's population is expected to reach 1.36 billion by 2010 and 1.45 billion by 2020. The peak will come in 2033 with a total population of 1.5 billion, according to a report issued by the State Population and Family Planning Commission this January.

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