China to stick to one child policy

China will stick to its family-planning policy in the coming decades to maintain a low fertility rate, Li Bin, head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission said resting speculations that the government may allow people to have more than one child.
The policy, which restricts most Chinese couples to one child, has reduced the fertility rate from six to two since it was introduced in 1970, according to official figures.

"Historical change doesn't come easily, and I, on behalf of Commission, extend profound gratitude to all, the people in particular, for their support of the national course. So we will stick to the family-planning policy in the coming decades," she was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

The policy has prevented over 400 million births restricting the population to about 1.3 billion, the world's largest. It was expected to touch 1.5 billion by 2015.The new figures were expected in about a year as China this year launched its massive census drive after a decade.

"The one child policy is a success as it curbed rapid population growth but outstanding challenges like an ageing population, a skewed sex ratio and a dwindling workforce will peak in 20 to 30 years," Li said.

Meanwhile new data showed that the suicide rate among the elderly living in urban areas rose to a worrying high in recent years.

The suicide rate among elderly urban Chinese aged 70-74 surged to 33.76/100,000 per year during the 2002-2008 period from 13.39/100,000 in the 1990s, Jing Jun, professor from the Department of Sociology at Tsinghua University said.

Among others, lack of filial care, rising medical costs and hardship after relocations contributed to increasing despair among the elderly, another state-run daily Global Times quoted Jing as saying. "Tradition-minded elders may feel particularly distressed if their children fail to provide enough care," said Tu Keguo, director of the Confucianism Study Institution at Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.

Many of China's urban elders had lived in the old quarters of the cities, which have faced mass demolitions as China pushed for a quick modernisation.

"The relocation could be a bane to senior citizens in many ways, like projecting them into unfamiliar communities, lengthening the distance from their family members, and raising disputes on property rights," Jing said.

The data also showed that there is a significant decline in suicide rates among rural women in the last 20 years.

China's national suicide rate declined from 17.65/100,000 in 1987 to 6.6/100,000 in 2008, well below that year's global rate of 14.5/100,000, Jing said.

The drop in the suicide rate could be attributed to the mass migration to urban areas, which pulled many rural women out of their subordinate role in their families, he said.
In the single year of 2009, a total of 44 million women are estimated to have moved to China's coastal urban areas as migrant workers.

Yuan Xin, a professor at Nankai University's population and development research institute, said the intervention in China's fertility rate, as a result of the family-planning policy, is partly responsible for many of these problems.

Yuan, who is also in charge of several of the commission's research programs, said most Western countries took more than 100 years to achieve similar reductions in their fertility rates without compulsory government policies.

"In contrast, China implemented its family planning policy and achieved its objective within three decades, which will, in turn, intensify some side effects," he said.

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