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Shanghai's population gets boost from mums
By Pan Haixia (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-17 05:45

SHANGHAI: The natural population growth, the difference between the birth rate and the death rate, in China's biggest city will most probably be positive this year after sliding for a decade, officials said at a press conference.

Shanghai's population gets boost from mums
This picture captures a crowded street in Shanghai in November 2004. Shanghai's natural population growth will most probably be positive this year after sliding for a decade. [newsphoto]
The average age at which women give birth is also rising, as is the number of teenage mothers.

The newborn population is expected to reach 120,000 for the whole of this year, 20,000 more than last year.

This is the first year since 1993 that the number of babies born has exceeded the number of people who have died.

"The young people born during the 1980s' baby boom have all entered child-bearing age, plus the city's newly-adopted policy of allowing a couple, if both parents are themselves single children, to have two children is having an effect. These have both contributed to the ending of the all-time-low birth rate among Shanghai citizens," said Xia Yi, deputy director of the Municipal Commission of Population and Family Planning.

Of the 57,000 babies born in the first half of this year, parents of 34,000 were local citizens, an increase of 11 per cent over the same period last year.

The long-term floating population, consisting of people who have lived for more than six months in the city and who account for 4.5 million people out of 17 million permanent residents, gave birth to 17,000 babies in the first six months of the year, 42.86 per cent more than the same period last year.

"This trend will continue," Xie said.

"It is estimated that in 2006, the city's population of new babies will reach 130,000, and the growth peak is likely to be reached between 2008 and 2010."

The city started its periodical newborn population forecast system in 2003, hoping to guide locals to choose the prime child-bearing time by avoiding the peaks.

Also released at the press conference was that the average child-bearing age of local women was 26.96 in 2004, 1.46 years older than in 1994.

Although medical research suggests that the best age to give birth to a child is between 24 and 29, an increasing proportion of women are delaying pregnancy due to work pressures and social competition.

Of every 100 pregnant women, 19 were over 30, according to a report assessing last year's figures. In 1994, the percentage was 16.2.

More teenage mothers

The number of teenage mothers has also gradually risen. Incomplete figures show that 140 teenage girls gave birth to children in 2004, about 2 per thousand new mothers. The figure in 1994 was 48.

"This tendency deserves more attention from the government, society and families," Xie Lingli, director of the commission, said.

Also released at the press conference was a recent survey conducted among over 20,000 local people which revealed that knowledge about AIDS was still inadequate.

About 21.2 per cent of respondents were not clear about the ways in which AIDS spreads.

Condom use among married couples stands about 20.6 per cent, 1.1 per cent more than last year, the survey said.

Although the figure is much higher than the national level, which is lower than 10 per cent, it lags far behind big cities in developed countries.

The intrauterine device (IUD) is still the most popular contraceptive for married women in Shanghai, with 69.6 per cent using the device.

(China Daily 10/17/2005 page3)

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