A million Chinese couples apply for second child

A million Chinese couples apply for second child

Nearly a million Chinese couples have sought permission for a second child after China eased its controversial one-child policy last year to address demographic imbalances in the world's most populous nation.

The relaxation came as the world's second largest economy strives to address its declining labour force and ageing population.

China's current population of 1.3 billion would see a rise with the realxation in this three decade old family planning policy.

"The number of applications is in line with the estimate of less than two million annually by China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC)," Mao Qunan, spokesman with the commission said today.

"The commission will put more effort toward improving the population monitoring mechanism and will stipulate relevant policies," he said.

 Since China's one-child policy was eased in a pilot program in east China's Zhejiang Province in January 2014, couples nationwide may now have a second child if either parent is an only child.

"We will also collect public opinion on health care for pregnant women and children in a timely manner," Mao was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The concession to have second child evoked poor response with fewer couples opting to exercise the option due to spiralling cost of rising children, media reports said.

Although 11 million couples have been granted a permit to have a second child since the country relaxed its family planning policy at the end of 2013 only seven lakhs of them have filed birth applications, according to the latest NHFPC statistics.

"This number really falls short of our expectations," official said.

According to 2013 official report, China had about 185  million people above the age of 60 and the figure is expected to surge to 221 million this year.

This will include 51 million 'empty nesters,'or elderly people whose children no longer live with them, which makes it incumbent on the part government to improve their social security management involving large amount of funds.

The old policy restricted most of the urban couples to have one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first child born was a girl.

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