Beijing: China hopes to get a better response for its new two-child policy as the earlier relaxation of permitting second child to couples from one child families evoked poor response with only 13 per cent of 1.45 million eligible parents applied for permission to have second child.
About 55,850 qualified couples have applied for a second child in Beijing city till last month, which is 10 per cent of those eligible in response to last year's relaxation of the family planning policy under which parents from one-child parents were permitted to have a second child.
By the end of May, 1.45 million couples with one parent being an only child had applied to have a second baby from all over China, accounting for about 13 per cent of all eligible couples, National Health and Family Planning Commission said.
The number of eligible couples applying to have a second child has increased between 80,000 and 90,000 every month, the commission said.
The poor response to the limited relaxation reportedly prompted the ruling Communist Party to permit all couples to have second child in a major policy move last month under which over 90 million couples would be eligible to benefit.
About 35 per cent of women qualified under the new policy is 35 years or above. The new policy would come into effect from early next year after formal ratification by legislature, the National People?s Congress (NPC).
After stringently implementing the one-child policy for about three and half decades, the party is in a hurry to push for more children due to rapid increase in old age population which this year is expected to touch about 221 million of the 1.37 billion total population which is the world's highest.
The resultant demographic crisis began to create labour shortages in the county and the crisis were expected to deepen in the coming years.
The new second child policy was expected to help raise the population to an estimated 1.45 billion by 2030.
Judging from the response to the previous relaxation, most of the Chinese couples were not very enthusiastic to have a second child which they see as a burden in view of heavy costs involved in bringing up two children, experts said.
Most couples don't want to expand their families, if the low number applying for a second child in Beijing under today's rules is an indicator of parental thinking.
Yuan Xin, an expert in population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that with the development of the Chinese economy and society over the past several decades, the traditional concept of having more children has changed and more people are opting for fewer children, especially in big cities such as Beijing.
"It has been a mainstream concept among Beijing residents to give birth to fewer children after decades of the family planning policies the city adopted in the 1970s", and allowing all couples to have two children will improve the population structure of Beijing and maintain the vitality of society, the Beijing commission said.
The city will amend its population laws and improve family planning services, such as building more maternal care and nursery institutes and kindergartens, to cope with an increase in births, it said.